MIDDLE CLASS HEALTH BENEFITS TAX REPEAL ACT OF 2019--Motion to Proceed--Resumed; Congressional Record Vol. 166, No. 56
(Senate - March 22, 2020)

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[Pages S1897-S1913]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maine.


  Ms. COLLINS. Madam President, the United States is facing a crisis 
unlike any other in our recent history. This is no time for 
partisanship or for political differences to prevent us from coming 
together and working in the best interests of the American people.
  The coronavirus pandemic has arrived on our shores, and it is growing 
exponentially, sickening our people and devastating our economy. As of 
today, more than 26,700 Americans have tested positive for the virus, 
and 340 people have died, while 176 have recovered. In my home State of 
Maine, there are now 89 cases in 8 different counties.
  Hospitals, doctors, and nurses are struggling to triage the influx of 
patients. Nursing homes are locking down their facilities in an attempt 
to safeguard their vulnerable residents.
  Students and teachers have had to transition abruptly to online 
learning as schools have closed across the Nation. Parents have been 
left with no childcare. Workers have been laid off or fear that they 
may soon lose their jobs as the outbreak worsens.
  To help mitigate the spread of this dangerous virus and protect those 
who are at highest risk, Americans have stepped forward to take the 
proper precautions and to follow the guidelines that are issued by the 
Centers for Disease Control.
  Although measures such as limiting large social gatherings and 
reducing nonessential travel are important to help contain the 
coronavirus and reduce contagion, they are also taking a tremendous 
toll on our economy. There are 30 million small businesses in the 
United States. They employ nearly 60 million Americans, about half of 
our Nation's workforce. According to a recent survey, 96 percent of 
small business owners say they have already been affected by the 
coronavirus--not in the sense that they have become ill with it, but 
their customer base has simply dried up--and 51 percent say they will 
only be able to keep open for up to 3 months if the economic 
consequences continue. The potential loss of more than half of our 
Nation's small businesses, and the impact on the millions of people 
they employ is simply unacceptable.
  In my State the number of claims for unemployment filed in a span of 
just 3 days this month was nearly double those filed in all of March 1 
year ago. Maine is on track to surpass the highest weekly total of 
unemployment claims since the great recession of 2008. The situation is 
dire, and it is only going to get worse unless we act and we act now.
  We must come together as Republicans and Democrats in this Chamber 
and in the House to provide relief to the American people to ensure 
that workers continue to receive paychecks or other forms of 
assistance. Of course, we continue to build on the two bills that we 
have already passed to protect the health and safety of the American 
  Looking beyond the statistics that I just recited, the real world 
effect of this economic devastation is evident everywhere. I just got 
off the phone from talking to a couple in Lewiston, ME, Jimmy and Linda 
Simones. They run a third-generation family diner. It is well known and 
a favorite place to stop by for lunch. They tried to convert to a 
takeout business, but it just didn't work. So for the first time ever 
in this diner's history, the Simones family is forced to close their 
doors and to lay off their workers--workers who have been with them for 
years, workers who include not only themselves but their son George.
  Every day I have heard from small business owners who are anxious 
about the future of their businesses and how they can continue to pay 
their employees who are often their family members, their friends, and 
their neighbors. The last thing they want to do is to lay off their 
employees and shut their doors, but they fear they may have no other 
choice. They simply do not have the cash flow, the revenue coming in 
the door, to allow them to remain open.
  The tourism sector, which is so critical to jobs in Maine, has been 
particularly hard hit. A small hotel in Brunswick, ME, received 84 
cancellations within 24 hours of the local college suspending its in-
person classes. A well-known Irish pub in Bangor, ME, had to close for 
St. Patrick's Day, probably its biggest day of the year, and has been 
forced to lay off 60 people. A charter bus company based in Lewiston 
lost $400,000 in 3 days because two major tours canceled. If tourism is 
further reduced, this bus company predicts losses of more than $1 
  Countless other businesses in my State--such as restaurants, the 
lobster and fishing industries, gyms, B&Bs, gift shops, retailers, and 
hair salons--have also been hard hit. The hospitality industry, in 
particular, is at risk of being devastated, as conferences and vacation 
trips continue to be canceled.
  A hair stylist in Biddeford, a good friend of mine, was forced to 
shutter her shop, and, at the same time, she lost her part-time job 
bartending when the bar that employed her was also required to close. 
When these small businesses suffer, it has a cascading effect on their 
employees, from housekeepers to wait staff, to bartenders, to 
fishermen, to drivers, to retail clerks. These are just some of the 
countless examples of the economic damage that is occurring in every 
community because of the virus and through absolutely no fault of the 
small businesses or their workers. But for the coronavirus and the 
steps that State and local governments have taken, as well as the 
Federal Government, these businesses would be thriving. In Maine, they 
would be beginning to start staffing up for the summer months for the 
height of the tourism season.
  It is essential that Congress act immediately without partisan 
bickering, without delay--act immediately to protect the paychecks and 
to provide other relief to supplement the earlier bills that we have 
  I am pleased to report that help is on the horizon for small 
businesses and their workers that would allow them to weather the 
current storm. As a member of the Small Business Task Force, I have 
been working very closely night and day with a group of my colleagues--
Senator Rubio, Senator Cardin, and Senator Shaheen. Our staffs have 
worked literally through the night on legislation to provide relief to 
small businesses and their employees.
  The Keeping Workers Paid and Employed Act that I authored with 
Senator Rubio, the chairman of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship 
Committee, provides a plan to do just that. Through our negotiations 
with Senator Shaheen and Senator Cardin, who have been wonderful 
partners--wonderful partners--we have produced, jointly, a $350 billion 
plan that would help mitigate this crisis.
  Our group has worked night and day in a bipartisan fashion. We have 
kept in mind the common goal of protecting those employees who have 
been laid off or who are at risk of being laid off because of the 
cashflow problems of their employers, problems that these small 
businesses did not create but, rather, are a result of the COVID-19 
  Our joint vision is to help small businesses and their employees make 
it through to the other side of this crisis by providing cashflow 
assistance quickly to employers who agree to keep their workers on the 
payroll. This would allow employers to stay in business and keep paying 
their employees.
  More than 100 Maine small businesses and the Maine Chamber of 

[[Page S1898]]

have endorsed this bill. Additionally, nationwide, a group of more than 
two dozen business organizations that represent thousands of companies 
across the country have expressed their strong support for this 
proposal, and I would ask unanimous consent that both of those letters 
be included in the Record at the conclusion of my remarks.
  Let me explain how our plan would work. Under our approach, small 
businesses would be eligible for a 100-percent federally guaranteed 
emergency loan to cover their payroll for 8 weeks, as well as certain 
fixed expenses--normal customary expenses like rent or mortgage 
payments and utilities. These loans would ultimately be eligible to be 
forgiven, provided that the employers kept the workers on their 
payrolls. That is the key provision. This financial assistance is 
targeted, and it could not be used to give raises to highly compensated 
employees or to increase returns to shareholders, not that most of 
these small businesses even have shareholders.
  Our goal is to keep these workers employed, to keep paychecks going 
to them, to keep payments for their health insurance intact, and to 
keep contributions that an employer may be making to their 401(k) plan 
intact. We know that keeping people employed and ready to get back to 
work, not severing that connection between employers and their 
employees, will cost far less than it would to try to rescue the 
economy after we have had massive layoffs and business closures. That 
is what our bill would prevent.
  The Secretary of the Treasury has estimated that if we do nothing and 
if we do not pass this bill in connection with a broader package aimed 
at preventing economic devastation, we could see unemployment rise as 
high as 20 percent. Keep in mind, we are coming through a period where 
we have had record-low unemployment. It could rise as high as 20 
  If that happens, the impact on the Federal Government would be 
substantial, far more than the $350 billion that we are using for this 
small business assistance program to keep their employees paid, not to 
mention the extraordinary harm that this kind of economic catastrophe 
would cause to millions of families.
  Congress has already passed two emergency relief packages. They will 
promote the health and safety of Americans, but it is going to take 
time for us to get the coronavirus under control. It is going to take 
time for the social distancing to work. It is going to take time for 
new treatments to be developed, much less a vaccine, despite the 
extraordinary efforts of scientists and physicians and other experts 
across this country who are all pulling together.
  Our Keeping Workers Paid and Employed Act has been included in a 
third package that I hope Congress will soon--very soon--consider to 
respond to COVID-19. It is imperative that we not delay. Every day that 
we delay, another business like the Samones' business, their diner in 
Lewiston, ME, is forced to close their doors and to lay off their 
  We are truly standing at the edge of a dangerous precipice. Bold, 
bipartisan action is required to respond to this public health crisis 
and move us back from economic disaster and small businesses closing 
their doors--in some cases forever--devastating and decimating our 
downtowns and millions of Americans losing their jobs. I implore my 
colleagues on both sides of the aisle to put aside partisan differences 
and come together and join our bipartisan group in delivering this 
urgently needed aid for the American people by passing this important 
economic relief for the employees of small businesses throughout our 
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                                            Hospitality Maine,

                                   Augusta, Maine, March 16, 2020.
       Dear Honorable Senator Collins: We are hospitality business 
     owners and supporting suppliers, both for-profit and 
     nonprofit, in Maine and we are writing with urgency regarding 
     the COVID19 outbreak and its economic impact on our 
     businesses. We ask that you look to support small business 
     owners, especially those in the tourism industry, during this 
     immediate challenge.
       The spread of the virus, and the subsequent directives for 
     social distance and quarantine, is causing widespread event 
     cancellations, hitting the travel and tourism industry hard. 
     Since the virus outbreak began to escalate in the United 
     States, our businesses have lost thousands of room nights and 
     advanced room reservations and thousands of restaurant 
     reservations and many more walk-in customers in just a few 
     short weeks. These cancellations are immediate and will not 
     return. Our businesses simply cannot sell yesterday's hotel 
     rooms or restaurant meals today or tomorrow.
       It is crucial that any lifeline provided to small 
     businesses address this immediate and severe reduction in 
     demand. With the precipitous drop in reservations, hotels and 
     restaurants around the state of Maine are under immediate 
     financial pressure. We know that COVID19 is a virus and that 
     it will pass. What is not known is how long that will take 
     and what the extent of the damage to Maine's tourism industry 
     will be. In what should have been a celebration year to share 
     Maine's Bicentennial with the world, this Spring will bring a 
     devastating drop in sales, already down tremendously in just 
     a few short weeks. Assistance must be immediate and must be 
     workable. Assistance must address a temporary crisis and not 
     be allowed to cause permanent damage to Maine's important 
     small businesses with overreaching and complicated 
     requirements as some have proposed.
       Maine's tourism industry is critical--Our industry 
     contributes at least $6.2 billion in tourism expenditures, 
     brings 37 million visitors to the state per year, sustains 
     110,000 jobs and contributes $610 million in taxes. This is 
     accomplished through the hard work of small business owners 
     and their remarkable hospitality teams each year.
       The Collins proposal would provide emergency cash-flow to 
     employers so long as they agree to pay their workers whether 
     they shut-down and lay-off their workers or remain open. We 
     appreciate your understanding that our businesses should not 
     be forced to permanently close because of an unforeseen, 
     world-wide pandemic we have played no role in causing. You 
     are also right to focus on protecting the jobs of our 
     workers--we cannot run our businesses without them. Finally, 
     we deeply appreciate your understanding that our businesses 
     cannot take on substantial, permanent debt when revenues are 
     plunging. Your proposal to forgive cash-flow assistance we 
     use to stay in business, preserve jobs, and pay our employees 
     would allow us to reopen, fully-staffed and ready to serve 
     the public the moment this crisis passes.
       Please act now to support Maine's small businesses and 
     tourism during the immediate crisis with a responsible 
     solution that does not further burden and shutter the 
     welcoming restaurants, hotels and inns of our great state.
       Thank you for your dedication to and of support Maine.

                                                   March 19, 2020.
     Senator Marco Rubio,
     284 Russell Senate Office Building,
     Washington, DC.
     Senator Susan Collins,
     413 Dirksen Building,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Senators: We, the undersigned business leaders applaud 
     your efforts to support small businesses during this crisis. 
     In particular, we support two key aspects of your efforts.
       First, an emergency loan program to support small 
     businesses during this crisis, with loans made available 
     through private banks, supported with a federal guarantee. 
     Using the private banking system to provide these loans is 
     critical, as small business needs the liquidity immediately.
       Second, including in the emergency loan program a clause 
     that forgives a portion of the loan equal to an appropriate 
     percentage of payroll (with an appropriate salary cap) for 
     any business that keeps their employees on salary despite 
     having to shut down.
       Small business employers are job creators. Small business 
     employers want to keep their employees on salary during this 
     crisis. A small business emergency loan program that includes 
     forgiveness for an appropriate percentage of payroll for any 
     small business that keeps their employees on salary will 
     allow small businesses to keep America employed.
       This is not a bailout. Small businesses are closed and the 
     employees are not working because of a government order.
       This is not as costly as may appear. Individuals who are 
     laid off will receive unemployment insurance. This effort 
     would simply shift the payment from the unemployment system 
     to an employment system. Our economy is better off paying 
     someone to remain employed, rather than having them 
       This has long term benefits. The dislocation costs 
     associated with widespread unemployment are severe. Once a 
     person separates from their job, rehiring is less likely. 
     And, maintaining employees on salary saves on future training 
       This is superior to an outright small business grant, as 
     the money would be provided in order to foster employment.
       We thank you for your leadership, and hope both Republicans 
     and Democrats can come together to support The Keeping 
     Workers Paid and Employed Act.
       Job Creators Network, American Association of 
     Orthodontists, American Hotel Lodging Association, American 
     Society of Appraisers, American Society of Travel Advisors, 
     Angel Capital Association, Asian American Hotel Owners 
     Association, Associated

[[Page S1899]]

     Builders and Contractors National, Blue Roof Franchisee 
     Association (IHOP), Coalition of Franchise Associations.
       Denny's Franchisee Association, Dunkin' Donuts Independent 
     Franchise Owners, Freedom Works, Global Business Travel 
     Association, Gusto, Independent Electrical Contractors, 
     International Foodservice Distributors Association, 
     International Franchise Association, NAIOP/Commercial Real 
     Estate Development Association, National Association of 
     Landscape Professionals.
       National Association of REALTORS, National Ready Mixed 
     Concrete Association, National Retail Federation, National 
     Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, The Payroll Group, The Real 
     Estate Roundtable, Tree Care Industry Association, U.S. 
     Travel Association.

  Ms. COLLINS. I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Ms. Collins). The Senator from Georgia is 
  Mrs. LOEFFLER. Madam President, I want to begin with my gratitude and 
respect for those on the frontlines in Georgia and across America 
today. The doctors, nurses, first responders, employees in our grocery 
stores and supply chains, and our State and local leaders who are 
leading the response on the ground at this perilous time--together, 
this is the best of America.
  Now, 17 days ago, I spoke from this podium and called on the country 
to come together to combat the outbreak of novel coronavirus. I asked 
the media, my colleagues in Congress, and leaders across our country to 
join me in putting politics aside and to put the health and safety of 
all Americans first.
  The next day in Congress, we came together to quickly pass $8.5 
billion in emergency funding to support our response to this virus, 
which President Trump signed immediately. In March, the week after 
that, the President declared a national emergency, unleashing $50 
billion to further mobilize testing, therapeutics, and care.

  Today we find ourselves in an even more serious and urgent situation. 
The health threat facing our Nation has intensified.
  Recent reports show the acceleration of infection. At the same time, 
people are losing their jobs; small businesses are closing; and fear is 
taking hold, while families are home with children out of school, and 
parents are out of work. This is why we must act immediately to pass 
the CARES Act, bringing in well over $1 trillion, with an economic 
impact being a multiple of that. We are in a rapidly changing 
environment with each passing day that requires this immediate and 
substantial action.
  Each day, families are put more at risk and financial peril, and 
hospitals are going without the resources they need. Uncertainty rests 
on Americans' doorsteps daily. They wonder: How much longer can I make 
this work? How do I protect my family's health and welfare? We need 
immediate relief in the hands of the American people, and we needed it 
days ago. We cannot wait another day.
  To the families worried about paying rent and feeding their children, 
the small business owner forced to shutter their doors and lay off 
staff who is like family to them, those who worry about foreclosure by 
landlords, the employees of service, travel, and tourism industries 
left unemployed, the hospitals--rural and urban--and the assisted-
living facilities running out of equipment, staff, and beds, and the 
public health officials--nurses and doctors working around the clock on 
the frontlines--help is on the way. Every American needs to know that, 
in Washington, we have their backs; that we know there is deep 
uncertainty and fear; and that we are working right now to address it.
  We must turn our rhetoric into action. I will say it again. There is 
no room for political maneuvers here.
  I want every Georgian to know I am fighting for them every day. No 
amount of false politicized allegations against me or my family will 
distract me. Nothing will get in my way of delivering much needed 
relief to Georgian families--nothing.
  I have spent the last 2 weeks speaking with hospital leaders, small 
businesses, employers, and employees across Georgia. The impact is felt 
by every Georgian. The need is urgent. From Lowndes County to Rabun 
County, the issues of health and economic concern are widespread.
  Across the country, we must stand together symbolically, though we 
cannot stand together physically. That is why I am calling on the 
Senate to act expeditiously to pass this relief package immediately.
  Let me be clear. It is time to deliver. As we have seen, this virus 
does not wait for politics as usual to play out. Only swift action will 
save lives, families, and jobs at this unprecedented time.
  Just as the rest of America has done, the Senate must step up and 
help win this war for all Americans.
  Thank you.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mrs. Loeffler). The Senator from Maine.
  Ms. COLLINS. Madam President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. RUBIO. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered
  Mr. RUBIO. Madam President, I want to caveat what I am going to say 
by the reality of anyone who has ever worked on legislation; that when 
you make a deal with the other side on something or any group of 
people, they are always contingent on your having to see it in writing. 
Sometimes what you agreed to and what the legislative language that was 
written says don't align. Oftentimes, it is not out of ill intent or 
anything of that nature; it happens. So I want to make that point.
  I also want to make a point in saying that because we are dealing 
almost with the whole of the economy, as we discuss what we are going 
to do to help this country through this crisis, and you deal, for 
example, as we have been, with small business, it sometimes interacts 
with what other parts of the same agreement are also dealing with.
  For example, you might be dealing with a small business sector, but 
it interacts with what might be happening with the group that is 
negotiating healthcare spending. And so items like that are things that 
you are going to continue to work through and have some understanding 
  But I think what I feel very confident in saying, as you heard a 
moment ago from Senator Collins, is that a group of us who were tasked, 
from both sides of the aisle, to come up with what we could do to help 
small business has come up with an understanding of purpose and outline 
of measures that I feel very confident every Member of this body should 
be able to support when its final version is before us. I am very 
confident that, if, God forbid, we are not successful in these efforts, 
it will not be because of what we have produced for this body.
  In that endeavor, let me first start by saying that I certainly feel 
both blessed and fortunate to have had as partners in this, obviously, 
Senator Collins, who has made a tremendous contribution. It began with 
her own ideas, and we were able to merge some of the ideas that we had 
been working on: Senator Cardin, who is someone I have worked with on 
the Small Business Committee but often on issues of foreign policy, and 
Senator Shaheen, who, likewise, is a member of the committee, but I 
have also worked with on foreign policy.
  I would just say that because of the nature of the crisis and the 
isolation that this building finds itself in, a lot of people weren't 
able to see it, but I think if the average person were to walk in on 
the conversations that we had, you would have had trouble 
distinguishing who the Republican and the Democrat was.
  I don't mean that from an ideological perspective. I mean that one of 
the things that I believe has allowed us to reach this point is that 
everyone has small businesses in their States--small businesses are not 
a partisan item--and that everyone understood that this was not a 
moment in which there was a Republican side or a Democratic side. This 
was a moment in which the entire Nation was imperiled economically, and 
we needed to act quickly.
  Senator Collins spoke a moment ago and outlined the key provisions 
and ideas, but I wanted to reiterate some of them because I have a lot 
of people calling and asking if they apply. Let me start out with a few 
  No. 1, small businesses are defined as either some company that has 
500 employees or less or a company that is defined as a small business 
under the existing SBA criteria. So it is one or the

[[Page S1900]]

other. Let me say, that covers close to 60 million American jobs and 
well over 30 million businesses in this country. It is an extraordinary 
  For the first time ever, we have also included most (c)(3)s--(c)(3)s 
and not-for-profit (c)(3)s--independent contractors--people who work on 
1099s--and gig economy workers who consider themselves a business, even 
though they have one employee and maybe no real estate that they 
operate from, but, nonetheless, they consider themselves that.
  What it basically does, in its simplest terms--and I am 
oversimplifying simply because there are caveats to some of this with 
formulas and likewise--is, by and large, the best way to understand it 
is as follows: You have a business. You are a restaurant, a small one-
person, one-shop restaurant. You are a dry cleaner. You are a mechanic. 
You have any small business, and you have less than 500 employees or 
fit the category of the SBA, as we define it in this bill, and the 
government has said that people can no longer go to your restaurant or 
can no longer go out of their homes and use you as their mechanic, so 
you have had to lay off your employees, so you are not operating, and 
you can't pay your employees--I am not here to make fun of or criticize 
the big corporations because I hear a lot of them saying: Well, we only 
have 30 days of credit available or we have a credit line we can draw 
down on over the next 15 or 20 days. I am not saying that is not an 
urgent thing that needs to be addressed, but the people we have been 
focused on in this part of the bill is people who have no line of 
credit; that if they go 2 days without revenue, they are in a lot of 
trouble. That is the overwhelming majority of small businesses in 
America, and, more importantly, in my mind, the jobs that they 
represent and support.
  So the program will work this way: You will go to a financial 
institution--be it at a bank or some other lender or credit union--
frankly, anyone the Treasury says is OK and wants to participate in 
this--and you will fill out very simple forms that prove you are a 
business, that prove you had payroll on a date certain, and you will 
receive the equivalent of 8 weeks of your payroll that you can prove 
you had, and you will receive this money very quickly. Hopefully, this 
system can set up and run. And as long as you use that money on payroll 
and/or rent or lease for the business, it is forgivable. You don't have 
to pay it back. If you decide to spend it or any portion of it outside 
of that use, then a year from now, it becomes a loan, and you will have 
to pay it back at approximately 4-percent interest. The Treasury might 
have a different program that works a little differently.
  I mention Treasury because we have also given them the flexibility, 
in addition to using the existing stable or small business lenders in 
America today, they will also be able to attract additional lenders to 
participate under terms that might be different than the current terms, 
just because we need capacity.
  One of our biggest concerns about this bill is that we are going to 
have tremendous demand and not enough lender supply, not enough places 
willing to stand up and operate to quickly process the paperwork and 
the like.
  The other important thing to understand is that this is not a program 
where you are going to the SBA. You are not going to a tent somewhere 
in a disaster area or some government office or some government 
  You are going to a bank, to a financial institution, to a credit 
union, to a fintech, to someone who will set up a process and an 
agreement, either with the existing 7a program or Treasury, to move 
this paper.
  The intent here is not to create some financial instrument that we 
can collect loans on. The intent here is what is the fastest way to get 
this cash into the hands of small business so they can keep the people 
who work for them employed; so they can rehire, maybe, some of the 
people they had to furlough or lay off, and they can keep them on 
payroll as opposed to going on the unemployment rolls.
  The other reason why this is important, No. 1, is the jobs. No. 2 is, 
for a small business, if you lose your employees, if your employees go 
away because you laid them off, some of them may move away, depending 
on the industry you are in and so forth. Then, if you are told, ``OK, 
all clear,'' and you have to go out and rehire them or find people to 
take their place, by the time you get going, it is too late. Many of 
them will never restart.
  We all want this economy to recover, but you can't have the economy 
recover if you have no economy. And when you are talking about 58 to 60 
million jobs and over 30 million potential employers that are impacted 
by this, it is going to be hard to restart an economy if any 
significant portion of them can't get going.
  We are dealing with some great unknowns. No. 1, we have never done 
this before. We did the very best we could under a tight timeframe and 
difficult circumstances. I am confident that, as with any piece of 
legislation, there are things in it that maybe we have to go back and 
revisit at some point--nothing catastrophic. But I just want to say 
that up front. We have never done it before, but we believe this will 
work. What we do know is that, if we don't try to do this and we do 
nothing, it is catastrophic.
  The second point I would make is there have been a lot of people who 
have worked very hard on this. The staff director on Senator Cardin's 
part has been sick. Some members of my staff this morning did not come 
in, as well, potentially just to be protective and be cautious. We are 
talking about a very small group of people who worked, basically, the 
last 72 hours straight on the SBA staff, Senator Collins' staff, 
Senator Shaheen's staff, and my staff--just a handful of people who 
worked long hours on the legislative draft. I know that, last night, 
they were here until 3:45 or 4 in the morning, as they were the night 
before and the night before that.
  So there has been a tremendous amount of hard work done on this, and 
we are grateful for it. And I have a product that we are proud of. Let 
me just say it is a product I wish we never had had to do, not because 
we don't want to help small businesses but because, by and large, every 
one of these businesses that we are trying to help were doing just fine 
until 2 weeks ago. That, to me, is the most important point.
  These are not businesses that were failing or making a mistake, and 
so government is stepping in to prop them up. These were people who 
were literally doing fine until they woke up one day and were told by 
the mayor or the Governor or somebody else: You can't open anymore. You 
can't operate anymore. People can't come to your store anymore, to your 
restaurant anymore.
  It doesn't just impact the owner. It impacts the people who work for 
  I will close with this. One of the unique things about small business 
is that, in a small business, the owner of the small business is the 
President and the CEO, but they are oftentimes also the cashier, the 
stock clerk, the janitor, the driver, the accountant. They are an 
  In an enormous percentage of these small businesses, that small 
business is not just the place that makes money. It is the life dream 
and the life work of an individual or a family. In many of these cases, 
the people who work for them are not the names and the numbers on a 
ledger. In many cases, these are human beings who have worked for them 
for 30 years, whose kids have grown up with them and watching their 
kids grow up, who are like family to them.
  I have talked to some of these small business owners who have had to 
inform their employees, tearfully, that, for the first time in 30 or 40 
years, they will not be opening and they will not be able to pay an 
employee--people whose businesses have survived slowdowns, recessions, 
financial crisis, 9/11.
  In Florida, they have survived hurricanes--multiple hurricanes--and 
all sorts of natural disasters. Many have been open virtually every 
day, even the day after these storms, in many cases--until now. The 
trauma is extraordinary for them.
  Now, imagine the people I know--close friends, people I have known 
for a long time--who informed me that, over a 72-hour period last week, 
the husband and the wife were laid off, their two adult kids were laid 
off, and the spouses of the two adult kids were laid off--six people, 
one family, laid off in a 72-hour period

[[Page S1901]]

  So they are sitting at home. Everything is closed. They cannot go 
anywhere, and they don't have a job and have no idea when this will end 
and, when it does, if they even have a job to go back to.
  That is the story of millions and millions of people who are living 
through it right now.
  It isn't what the articles are about. It isn't what the arguing is 
about. It isn't what all the stories on cable television are about. It 
isn't what the snarky people on Twitter write about. But it is 
happening to millions and millions and millions of people, and they are 
scared and they are worried. And they are going to get more scared and 
more worried as the days go by.
  I will say this. I hope the Senate can act as fast as possible on 
something beyond just what I have described in our part of this, 
because tomorrow morning, all across this country, business owners, 
small and large, are going to make decisions. People who a week ago 
were talking about pay freezes and hiring freezes are now talking about 
layoffs, and maybe a few of them are holding on to see what we do or 
fail to do. But I caution everyone that, if we do not get something 
done, if we think that we have the luxury and the benefit of time to 
play games and for gamesmanship and bargaining and trying to get a 
little bit more out of the deal, in a few hours some important 
businesses and a lot of small ones are going to make decisions about 
whether or not they are going to lay off and fire and let go of a bunch 
of people.
  We don't know what that number looks like tomorrow morning and in the 
week to come. Keep that in mind as we decide not just how we are going 
to vote in a few minutes but what we are going to do here over the next 
few hours.
  We do not have time on our side. We do not have the luxury of time to 
negotiate. I think this is a process in which there has been a 
tremendous amount of input. I haven't been involved in all of the other 
sectors, but I can tell you that in ours I am very proud of the work of 
all these Senators with whom we have worked. Obviously, there is always 
a little bit of tightening you have to do as the language is written, 
but I believe that, when it is all said and done, we will put before 
the Senate a product that will help millions of small businesses and 
tens of millions of American workers to be able to continue to draw a 
paycheck during this very difficult time.
  I hope that will earn the support--as it should--of every Member of 
the Senate and, then, every Member of the House.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
order for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, colleagues, as everyone now knows, 
the coronavirus has arrived here in the Senate. There are at least five 
Senators who are in self-quarantine at the moment.
  The discussions continue on the package that we have been working on, 
on a bipartisan basis, over the last 2 days. It is time to move 
forward, and the next step is the vote we are going to have at 6 
o'clock. No one is disadvantaged by having that vote because, by 
getting cloture on the shell that we are having the vote on, there is 
time--what we call postcloture time--after that vote. So it doesn't 
interfere with any further discussions that are going on, on a 
bipartisan basis.
  We need to signal to the public that we are ready to get this job 
done, and the way to do that is to vote aye in 5 minutes on cloture on 
the motion to proceed.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Hoeven). Without objection, it is so 

                             Cloture Motion

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Pursuant to rule XXII, the Chair lays before 
the Senate the pending cloture motion, which the clerk will state.
  The legislative clerk read as follows

                             Cloture Motion

       We, the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the 
     provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, 
     do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the motion to 
     proceed to Calendar No. 157, H.R. 748, a bill to amend the 
     Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the excise tax on 
     high cost employer-sponsored health coverage.
         Mitch McConnell, David Perdue, Mike Rounds, Mitt Romney, 
           James E. Risch, Lamar Alexander, Steve Daines, Kevin 
           Cramer, Tim Scott, Martha McSally, Deb Fischer, Marco 
           Rubio, John Boozman, James Lankford, Rob Portman, Tom 

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. By unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum 
call has been waived.
  The question is, Is it the sense of the Senate that debate on the 
motion to proceed to H.R. 748, a bill to amend the Internal Revenue 
Code of 1986 to repeal the excise tax on high cost employer-sponsored 
health coverage, shall be brought to a close?
  The yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. THUNE. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Colorado (Mr. Gardner), the Senator from Utah (Mr. Lee), the 
Senator from Kentucky (Mr. Paul), the Senator from Utah (Mr. Romney), 
and the Senator from Florida (Mr. Scott).
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from Vermont (Mr. Sanders) is 
necessarily absent.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber 
desiring to vote?
  The result was announced--yeas 47, nays 47, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 77 Leg.]


     Scott (SC)


     Cortez Masto
     Van Hollen

                             NOT VOTING--6

     Scott (FL
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. On this vote, the yeas are 47, the nays are 
  Three-fifths of the Senators duly chosen and sworn not having voted 
in the affirmative, the motion is rejected.
  The majority leader.

                          Motion to Reconsider

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I enter a motion to reconsider the 
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The motion is entered.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, the American people are watching this 
spectacle. I am told the futures market is down 5 percent. I am also 
told that is when trading stops. So the notion that we have time to 
play games here with the American economy and the American people is 
utterly absurd.
  I want to explain what just happened. Our good friends on the other 
side would not have been disadvantaged one bit if this vote had 
succeeded because it would have required potentially 30 more hours of 
discussion, during which these seemingly endless negotiations could go 
on as long as they would like.
  Now, the buildup to this, so everybody fully understands, is that we 
had a high level of bipartisanship in five different working groups 
over the last 48 hours, where Members who were participating were 
reaching agreement.
  Then, all of a sudden, the Democratic leader and the Speaker of the 

[[Page S1902]]

show up, and we are back to square one.
  We are fiddling here--fiddling with the emotions of the American 
people, fiddling with the markets, fiddling with our healthcare. The 
American people expect us to act tomorrow, and I want everybody to 
fully understand that if we aren't able to act tomorrow, it will be 
because of our colleagues on the other side continuing to dicker when 
the country expects us to come together and address this problem.
  Now, I changed my vote, which gives me the opportunity to move to 
reconsider at a later time. That is all I can do in the face of this 
  Look, I can understand obstruction when you are trying to achieve 
something. This obstruction achieves nothing--nothing whatsoever--other 
than preventing us from getting into a position where there are 
literally 30 more hours that they could use to continue to dicker.
  So at a time when the country is crying out for bipartisanship and 
cooperation, and we saw that over the last 48 hours when regular 
Members of the Senate, not in the leadership office, not in the 
Speaker's office--for goodness' sake, she is the Speaker of the House, 
not the speaker of the Senate; we don't have one--we were doing just 
fine until that intervention.
  So I want the American people to fully understand what is going on 
here. The markets are already reacting to this outrageous nonsense. We 
have an obligation to the American people to deal with this emergency 
and to deal with it tomorrow, and if we don't, I want everybody to 
fully understand, you have seen everybody who is on record.
  Now, I have conspicuously avoided trying to turn this into any kind 
of partisan effort for 2 days, but it is pretty clear what is going on 
  We will have this cloture vote again at some point of my choosing, 
and, hopefully, some adults will show up on the other side of the room 
and understand the gravity of the situation and the need to act before 
the markets go down further and the American people become even more 
depressed about our lack of ability to come together under the most 
extraordinary circumstances. We have never been confronted with 
anything like this before. It is totally different, and we are not 
immune to it in terms of the public health risk. Coronavirus has hit 
the Senate today as well. We have five Members--five Members--in self-
  Everybody understands the emergency, particularly when it hits close 
to home. It is not just back in our States, but right here in the 
  So I will say to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle: Step 
up. Step up. Help us reach an agreement so that we can do what needs to 
be done for the American people no later than tomorrow.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, in more than 48 hours of negotiations, 
there has been a lot of progress made in the subjects that are within 
the jurisdiction of the Finance Committee, which I chair.
  The results of these negotiations have led to decisions that will be 
in legislation we hope to vote on tomorrow that would make sure that 
checks go from the Federal Government to individuals--all individuals--
$1,200 for individuals, $2,400 for married couples, and $500 for each 
child. Those would go to people who need it--people with no income and 
people with up to $75,000 a year in income or a married couple with 
$150,000 per year income, with a phaseout to make sure that no very 
wealthy people or even higher income or middle-income people benefit 
from it.
  We are trying to help those who need the most help, and there wasn't 
disagreement from the other side that we ought to mail checks out to 
people. This would give Americans the cash they need to provide for 
their families and to weather the storm.
  This isn't the first time we have done this. We did it in 2008, when 
we had the start of the great recession.
  We also provided for liquidity for small businesses and larger 
businesses by delaying some taxes being paid so that perhaps these 
people who, right now, are thinking should they lay off their workforce 
or keep their workforce in place, being productive--to enable them to 
do that.
  We also made a very big effort from both the Republican and 
Democratic sides to very much enhance unemployment with an additional 
$600 per week for people who are unemployed, plus a lot of people who 
don't qualify for unemployment now would qualify for unemployment 
insurance for over at least the next 3 months, with an understanding 
that if this thing doesn't turn around in the next 3 months, getting 
people back to work, getting the economy up and running--with all of 
this stuff we are talking about, we are probably going to have to do 
more. But right now, the unemployment rolls are going up by the 
hundreds of thousands each day, and we have a vote tonight that can 
give these people some assurances. And somehow that is not a 
catastrophic situation that we should respond to?
  I don't know what people on the other side of the aisle are thinking 
about, particularly for the unemployed and particularly for those who 
don't have checks. What are we going to do for them?
  This package that came out of the Finance Committee will not solve 
all the problems, but, as the leader said, there are four or five other 
task forces that are doing things to make sure that small businesses 
can qualify for loans if they will keep their people employed.
  So I don't understand this vote at all, particularly considering the 
good working relationship that I had with Democrats working with me on 
these things as well.
  I yield the floor.

                   Recognition of the Minority Leader

  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Boozman). The Democratic leader is 
  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I want to provide everyone with an update 
about the status of negotiations on the third phase of coronavirus 
  Early this morning, Leader McConnell presented to us a highly 
partisan bill written exclusively by Republicans, and he said he would 
call a vote to proceed to it today. So who is being partisan? He knows 
darn well that for this bill to pass, it needs both Democrat and 
Republican support.
  Furthermore, when Speaker Pelosi and I said let's have a four-corners 
negotiation, it was Leader McConnell who resisted. So whatever we do 
here in the Senate, the House is doing its own bill. It made no sense 
then, and it makes no sense now. I said to the leader then that would 
slow things down. So that is where we are.
  Most important is the legislation itself. The legislation has many 
problems. At the top of the list, it includes a large corporate bailout 
with no protections for workers and virtually no oversight. Also, very 
troubling in the bill are significant shortfalls of money that our 
hospitals, States, cities, and medical workers desperately needed. This 
is a public health crisis. It is inexplicable to skimp on funding to 
address the pandemic.
  I told both Leader McConnell and Secretary Mnuchin that our caucus 
could not support such a partisan bill and urged Leader McConnell to 
delay the 3 p.m. vote so we might come to a bipartisan agreement. I am 
glad he agreed, because we Democrats want to move forward with a 
bipartisan agreement. Unfortunately, the legislation has not improved 
enough in the past 3 hours to earn the necessary votes to proceed. 
Given more time, I believe we could reach a point where the legislation 
is close enough to what the Nation needs for all Senators--all 
Senators--to want to move forward. We are not yet at that point.
  America needs a Marshall Plan for our hospitals and our public health 
infrastructure. The bill should include much more money for hospitals 
and community health centers, nursing homes, and enough funding to 
address the coming shortages in masks, ICU beds, ventilators, testing, 
and personal protective equipment.
  The bill needs more money to offset the costs now being incurred by 
State and local governments that are propping up their health networks. 
We cannot reach a point where our States and

[[Page S1903]]

localities are going bankrupt or firing public employees, like teachers 
and first responders.
  The corporate bailout provisions remain unacceptable. If we are going 
to provide assistance to certain industries, there must be far more 
oversight, transparency, and accountability. There certainly must be 
protections for workers.
  On unemployment insurance, we are glad the bill has moved in the 
direction we outlined, but at the moment the expanded unemployment 
benefits we fought for last only 3 months. It was supposed to be 
longer. We need it longer.
  Now, let me be clear. The majority leader was well aware of how this 
vote would go before it happened, but he chose to go forward with it 
anyway, even though negotiations are continuing. So who is playing 
  Our caucus is united in trying to deliver a bill that addresses this 
health and economic crisis quickly, and we are committed to working in 
a bipartisan way to get it done--both sides of the aisle voting for a 
bill. We are entitling our proposal, the Democratic bill that we 
introduced, ``Workers First,'' and we intend to follow through on this 
principle as we negotiate.
  The bipartisan negotiations on this package continue even as we 
speak. Secretary Mnuchin was in my office just about a half hour ago. 
Changes to the legislation are being made even as we speak. The bill 
can and must continue to improve. We are closer than we have been at 
any time over the past 48 hours to an agreement, but there are still 
too many problems in the proposed legislation.
  Can we overcome the remaining disagreements in the next 24 hours? 
Yes. We can and we should. The Nation demands it
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Ohio.
  Mr. PORTMAN. Mr. President, we not only can and should; we must. We 
must pass this legislation. I was very disappointed to see that my 
colleagues on the other side of the aisle chose to vote no on even the 
ability to move forward with debating this legislation tonight. To my 
colleague, the Democratic leader, who said this is a highly partisan 
bill, that is just not the case. Let's put the partisanship aside. 
Let's do what is best for the American people.
  I will tell you that over the past several days, through a bipartisan 
process, we sat down, Democrat and Republican, in four different task 
forces, and we put together the elements of this legislation. As a 
result, the bill before you tonight, the one we are talking about, 
reflects Republican priorities and Democratic priorities. I am going to 
take the time to walk through it and to talk about some of those so 
people understand what is in this legislation.
  I was pleased to see the Democratic leader say at the end that he 
believes we can figure this out over the next several hours. He said 24 
hours. I hope it is not 24 hours. We need to move and move quickly. We 
see what the markets are doing globally. We know what the markets are 
going to do here. We have seen what the futures are. More importantly, 
we see the impact in our States, among our citizens.
  The Democratic leader says more money needs to be put against 
hospitals and States and workers. There is an unprecedented amount of 
money for all three of those in this legislation--unprecedented--and 
necessary, by the way, because we are in a crisis. But to say there is 
nothing here that helps hospitals, oh my gosh--I am going to talk about 
this with specificity. But $100 billion--$100 billion--is a pretty good 
start, and $75 billion of which goes to hospitals.
  To say there is nothing for workers--the unemployment insurance 
provisions in here comes from the Democratic side of the aisle. It is 
the most generous unemployment insurance plus-up by far ever in the 
history of our country. It actually adds more money to unemployment 
insurance than the current system has. By the way, it adds eight times 
more funding into the unemployment system for the rest of this year 
than is currently being spent. Think about that. That is not generous? 
By the way, we Republicans also agree that those who lose their jobs 
through no fault of their own should be able to get a generous 
unemployment check while we work through this coronavirus and get our 
economy back up and going again.
  Let me walk through some of this. This coronavirus is something that 
is urgent for us to address. It has closed businesses. It has closed 
schools. It has changed every aspect of our daily lives. It has left us 
uncertain, and for many Americans it has left them isolated--literally, 
  It has put tremendous strain on our healthcare system and that is why 
this legislation addresses that. Our amazing first responders, our EMS, 
and our police officers are doing their part, as well as our 
physicians, our nurses, and other medical professionals who are on the 
frontlines combating this disease. God bless them.
  It has also done great damage to what was a strong and growing 
economy. Only a few weeks ago, we had unemployment numbers that were at 
a 50-year low. We had 18 straight months of employment increases and 
over 3-percent wage growth every month. But now--now--we see businesses 
shuttering. We see thousands and now millions of Americans unemployed 
through no fault of their own.
  The purpose of this legislation is to allow people to get back on 
their feet, to allow us to get back to normalcy. Extraordinary times 
like this require us to unify us as a country, and I see it in my home 
State of Ohio and around the country. Everybody has a role to play. 
Everybody needs to be practicing social distancing, as they call it, 
being safe, washing your hands frequently, using hand sanitizer--all 
part of the strategy of flattening the curve, as you have seen when you 
see Dr. Fauci and others giving presentations. It is to reduce our own 
exposure so that we don't overwhelm our Nation's public health system. 
We can all play a role in this, and in the end that would help save 
lives of our family members, of our neighbors, of our friends, of 
people we may never meet but we come in contact with, and the most 
vulnerable in our society. If we follow the guidelines put out by the 
Centers for Disease Control--the CDC guidelines--we are going to be 
safer. We are going to save lives.
  It all depends on all of us doing that, but it also depends on what 
we do here in the U.S. Congress, both in slowing the spread through the 
legislative efforts I will talk about tonight but also in getting this 
economy back on its feet so that people can get back to work and get a 
paycheck and begin to make ends meet.
  In Ohio we have been taking the lead on this. We have been pretty 
aggressive at saying that people need social distance and restaurants 
and bars need to close. We were one of the first couple of States to 
say that schools needed to be closed. Governor Mike DeWine and our Ohio 
Department of Health Director, Dr. Amy Acton, have done a good job in 
responding to this unprecedented crisis. As of this morning, we have 
247 confirmed cases and 3 deaths.

  By the way, the first person to die in Ohio was a man I know. I knew 
him and I respected him. His name is Mark Wagner, Sr., of Toledo, OH. 
He contracted this disease and succumbed to it.
  Unfortunately, we are going to see more cases and more deaths, but we 
are doing the things to contain this and to begin to slow the spread, 
and that needs to happen at every level, including here. That is why 
this legislation is so important to pass tonight.
  Two weeks ago, Congress started this effort by passing the first 
major relief effort, called phase 1, which was $8.3 billion to address 
the healthcare needs associated with this pandemic. Ohio has already 
received $15.5 million from that first phase 1 legislation.
  Of course, much more needed to be done. One way we can find out what 
needs to be done is by listening to the people who have been most 
affected by it, and we have been doing that. I was joined by an 
infectious disease expert from the University of Cincinnati, Dr. George 
Smulian, on a Facebook Live townhall last week, so that we could answer 
questions from Ohioans about this crisis. He told us what the 
healthcare system needs. We know what it needs, and we are responding 
through this legislation.
  Last week, I hosted conference calls, while I was here in Washington, 
with a number of heavily impacted groups, including the hospitals in 
Ohio and a number of healthcare providers, with

[[Page S1904]]

our food banks, with small business owners, with workers of nonprofits, 
and the charities out there on the frontlines doing all they can to 
help. We spoke to employers of all sizes. We had conference calls with 
hotels and restaurants and more.
  Hearing directly from these stakeholders helped us understand what 
the needs are, and this legislation reflects what the needs are in our 
communities. We have to continue to listen to people because things are 
changing, and as there is an evolving threat out there, Congress needs 
to be evolving as well.
  Last week, we passed a second major bill called the phase 2 package, 
which provides Federal funds to individuals exposed to the virus to get 
healthy. As an example, if you want to get tested for the virus, that 
is now free.
  Our hospitals needed more resources to combat the health crisis. So 
we provided more care--more funding--for our healthcare network. I am 
glad the President signed that bill immediately into law. We also 
provided resources to State Medicaid Programs, to shore up hospitals 
concerned about losing revenue, with no elective surgeries anymore, and 
concerned about being overwhelmed by an influx of individuals suffering 
from the virus. Phase 2 also provided needed help in terms of masks, 
gowns, and other protective gear, and more funding for the antiviral 
therapies that are coming. That is incredibly important--that people 
know that if they get this virus, they could have something like 
Tamiflu for the regular flu. That gives them a lot of reassurance and 
comfort, and it is necessary to protect the health of our citizens.
  That phase 2 legislation also puts more money into getting the 
vaccine as quickly as possible. It is not going to be here soon. It 
takes a while to get a vaccine going, but it will be done at an 
unprecedented speed because of the funding we are putting into it.
  It also provides for expansion of emergency food assistance, 
including for children who rely on free or reduced lunch from their 
school cafeterias who no longer have access to those meals. It also 
provides paid sick leave and family leave benefits of someone who had 
to leave work because of the coronavirus and who now knows they can 
still pay their bills. Most importantly, this paid leave is provided 
100 percent from the Federal Government, dollar for dollar, not on the 
small businesses. That is very important. Larger businesses tend to 
have paid leave, but now we have a way for everybody under 500 
employees to be able to get that paid leave through the Federal 
Government reimbursement.
  It is good we acted on phase 1 and phase 2, as I have talked about, 
but it is clearly not enough. Things haven't gotten better in the 
meantime in the last few days. They have gotten worse. A lot more has 
to be done to contain this virus and to help people weather the storm 
in the meantime.
  The crisis is unprecedented. In the best interest of public health, 
we effectively have chosen to pump the brakes on the economy. We 
decided to do that for our country because it is in the best interest 
of public health. That means businesses of all sizes--small, medium, 
and large--are having to either shutter their doors or slow down their 
production, letting people go. So many parts of our economy now are 
feeling the pain of this slowdown.
  Applications for unemployment in Ohio this week, as compared to last 
week, increased twentyfold. That means there was a 2,000-percent 
increase in Ohio on claims for unemployment. Obviously, that is 
overwhelming the system.
  I have worked with my colleagues nonstop over the past 3 days to put 
together this phase 3 package that will provide some relief to the 
millions of American workers and small businesses that have made our 
country and our economy the strongest in the world.
  Our goals are simple. First, slow the spread of the virus. Again, if 
that doesn't happen, people's health is at risk, and the negative 
economic impact that is hurting so many families will continue. So 
slowing the spread of the virus is not just about the virus; it is also 
about our economy.
  Second, we need to help employers to continue paying their employees 
through this crisis. Our objective should be to keep people at work and 
keep them connected to their employer as much as possible. That is 
where they get their healthcare. That is where they get their 
retirement, for the most part. That enables us to be able to ensure 
that as we ramp up our economy, it can ramp up more quickly because 
people will be there at work. There will not be the process of hiring 
and retraining. So one of our objectives in this legislation is not 
just to slow the spread of the virus but also keep people at work to 
the extent possible.
  And third, recognizing that not every employer is going to be able to 
keep employees. Even those who have some business going, don't have 
enough business. We want to be sure we are providing the resources to 
help those individuals. These are the people who are falling between 
the cracks. They can't stay at work because their work no longer has 
any revenue. We need to assist those people.
  Again, as we talked about, Ohio's unemployment claims have 
skyrocketed but so have unemployment office claims all around the 
country. The bottom line is that our country is not going to be able to 
come back until we slow the spread of this virus.
  I am pleased to say that the phase 3 package we have negotiated, by 
the way, accomplishes all three of those objectives--all three. We do 
it through four major policy areas. We do it now, right away, to bring 
relief to the people we are representing, which is why we have to pass 
this legislation and pass it now.
  First, in terms of helping people, this phase 3 package provides 
direct payments. These are direct payments--checks to individuals of 
$1,200 per person. If you are a couple, it is $2,400, and then it is 
$500 per child. That check getting out to people will give people some 
extra dollars to make the difference in being able to pay bills, paying 
the car payment, paying rent, and being able to put food on the table. 
It will give people some comfort to know that there is at least a 
little help coming directly and quickly.
  For those who are out of work, these checks also serve as a bridge to 
getting into the new unemployment insurance system I will talk about 
now. The checks are going to be necessary in that in most States it is 
going to take a couple of weeks--a few weeks--in some States several 
weeks to set up this new system. In Ohio, they say 2 weeks.
  This is the most significant expansion of our unemployment insurance 
system in history, by far. It is going to significantly expand the 
number of individuals who are eligible to receive benefits, 
particularly self-employed, so it broadens those who qualify for 
unemployment insurance. These folks, by the way, have never been 
covered by unemployment insurance before.
  What is more, it provides a flat increase of $600 per week per person 
in the unemployment insurance system. This means that for low- and low-
medium-income folks, let's say 40- to 50,000 bucks a year, they will 
essentially have wage replacement now through unemployment insurance. 
This is a big difference. In Ohio, unemployment insurance is one-third 
of your wages for those same individuals. Now it will be topped up.
  So, to the point earlier that this is a highly partisan bill, I am 
sorry. This legislation reflects the priorities of Democrats and 
Republicans, and this is an example of that, and we have to acknowledge 
  Is the bill perfect? No. No bill is perfect, certainly not when we 
are trying to respond to a crisis like this. We are pumping out more of 
our Federal tax dollars and borrowing Federal Treasury dollars than 
ever in the history of our country through this process when you add up 
this phase 1, phase 2, and phase 3. This is a bill that represents 
ideas from both sides of the aisle.
  Are there some things that might need to be adjusted by the Democrats 
in order to support it? I guess so because that is what we heard 
tonight from the Democratic leader, but we cannot start over, folks. 
This legislation does exactly what so many Democrats have called for 
and Republicans, to help people have the financial security and to pay 
their bills and to stay afloat. And, by the way, we also provide 
funding to the State employment offices so they can have Federal 
funding to deal with their administrative costs as they shift to this 
dramatically new system that is being provided

[[Page S1905]]

through this legislation. So that is for people directly.
  Second, the stimulus package is going to provide relief for small 
businesses that are trying to stay afloat by ensuring they are going to 
have access to credit and liquidity needed to adapt and retool their 
businesses to weather this storm. We are going to accomplish this in a 
couple of ways.
  One is through a major expansion of what is called the Small Business 
Administration 7(a) loan program. This is going to go through 
businesses that are currently providing funding to small businesses. It 
is the community bank. It is the savings and loan. It is the credit 
union. It is the regional bank. Wherever people are banking, they will 
be able to get these loans directly.
  Specifically, we are providing hundreds of billions of dollars in 
loans to small- and medium-sized businesses that they can use for a 
variety of expenses, including payroll, including paying rent, paying 
mortgages. And, by the way, if they use it for that, the loan is 
forgiven. It really converts into a grant. If they use it for payroll--
again, let me repeat--to keep workers, because that is one of the 
objectives here, if they use it for rent, and if they use it for 
mortgage payments, the loan is written off entirely. It, essentially, 
is a grant to those small businesses. This is why the small business 
community is excited about this because they want to keep their 
employees, and they want to keep their doors open. They are waiting, 
and they are on the edge of their seats seeing what we do tonight and 
tomorrow. I have talked to many businesses back home who are saying: I 
can wait until Monday, but I can't wait any longer. I am bleeding cash. 
I have no revenue. I want to keep my people. I want to try to keep the 
doors open. You have got to give us some help.

  As I said before, the best way to protect workers and get our economy 
back up and running is to enable employers to keep paying their 
employees. This new program for small- and medium-sized businesses does 
just that.
  For businesses that might not be eligible for these SBA loans, the 
phase 3 stimulus helps provide immediate liquidity through a number of 
different ways. These are larger businesses--say, over 500 employees. 
One is through the Tax Code. Specifically, our bill includes provisions 
that allow businesses to put cash in the hands of companies so they can 
keep their workers employed and be ready to get back and running when 
the crisis is over.
  By the way, these tax incentives are things like not having to pay 
the employer side of the payroll taxes--the 6.2-percent FICA tax. That 
is incredibly important to these businesses. They told us that--give us 
a break on that for this year, 2020, and we can keep more people, and 
we can keep our doors open. That is probably the biggest single one 
  But guess what. In 2021 and 2022, they have to pay that back. So the 
best part of these tax incentives is that the large majority of them 
are simply timing changes, meaning that while they are direct 
deductions in taxes now in 2020, when they need it, much of that 
deduction is going to be paid back in the coming years. Based on the 
rough estimates we have seen, these tax provisions could provide up to 
$500 billion in immediate cashflow increases, again, with more than 
half of that paid back to the Federal Government during the budget 
  Third, the phase 3 package takes precise and targeted measures to 
relieve particularly distressed industries that are at risk of 
hemorrhaging jobs and closing down if we don't. I know the Democratic 
leader said he doesn't think help should go to businesses. I understand 
the Democrats actually want to give more help to some businesses. So I 
guess they will pick and choose the businesses. But in this case, these 
are the businesses we all know are, unfortunately, facing the 
possibility of shutting down unless we do something.
  Think of the airline industries. Think of the airlines that right now 
have seen their passengers be reduced by 80, some say 90, percent. 
Think of the airports that are closing. Think of the hotel businesses. 
Think of the other traveling tourism businesses and entertainment 
businesses. So these folks will be able to access what is called the 
Exchange Stabilization Fund to get a loan. And by the way, they will 
have to pay back that loan, but it is the Federal Government stepping 
in and providing a backup so they can get that loan and be able to stay 
in business.
  So those are the three aspects that help workers, that help small 
businesses, and that help with regard to all businesses. And then, 
finally, and I think most importantly, perhaps, in this legislation is 
funding and policy changes to slow the spread of the virus.
  Frankly, as I view this, this is to buy time. It is to buy time for 
us to increase the capacity of our healthcare system. This phase 3 
package ensures that the men and women who are on the frontlines of 
this epidemic every day get more support. It increases funding, which 
we have already increased once, but an additional $4.5 billion for the 
Centers for Disease Control. Of that $4.5 billion, $1.5 billion of it 
has to go to the States. This is going to ensure we can continue to 
monitor and respond to this virus as this pandemic continues.
  I think this is incredibly important. It also sends more money out to 
ensure that we can get these antiviral therapies going. Think of 
Tamiflu for influenza, something that is key to dealing with this 
crisis as we begin to turn things around and is going to be having an 
ability to keep people healthier should they contract the virus.
  To me, maybe the most important parts of this legislation--because I 
believe in order to get our great country back on track and get people 
back to work, we need to have some sort of metrics in place. So maybe 
the most important part is to get better data on the true public health 
risk that is out there, and this legislation does that. It enables us 
to know, now that we have more and faster testing out there, finally--
and we needed more testing earlier--but now that we have that, how many 
new infections are there? That is probably the best measurement we have 
out there. How many new cases are there? This legislation provides the 
funding and provides the direction to support the public health 
officials at every level to get better and more acceptable results 
every day and report it to the CDC--from your local health authority 
and from your State Department of Health, those should be reported 
publicly every single day. Also, all that data needs to come to the 
National Centers for Disease Control every day so that we can know 
truly what is going on out there because we don't have that data now. 
And to have that data, it is going to give us a better understanding to 
measure both the crisis as it stands and the healthcare risk we all 
face but also to measure success as it starts to happen because we need 
to be able to measure that success to get people back to work, to get 
people back to their families, and to get people back on track in their 
  So this bill provides an increase in funding for healthcare--a major 
increase--in addition to what I just talked about. It provides about 
$100 billion for hospitals and all healthcare providers, with $75 
billion being appropriated to HHS in order to support our healthcare 
systems in a more flexible manner and about $30 billion in Medicare 
payment increases for hospitals that are directly treating patients 
with coronavirus. This is what they are asking for.
  Finally, we have a couple of key proposals that we championed over 
the years to support people with disabilities, particularly in 
institutional settings that are at increased risk of contracting the 
virus. That is in this legislation. We have the Money Follows the 
Person Program, which supports transitioning Medicaid beneficiaries 
from dangerous settings--which some of them are in where there is a lot 
of activity--into home-based, long-term care. That is important too.
  As I said earlier, these are exceptional times. Not since the 
influenza epidemic of 1918, 102 years ago, has the United States of 
America been so swept up by a healthcare crisis like this. I am pleased 
with some of the steps we have taken so far at the Federal level to 
respond to this pandemic. We talked about them tonight.
  We have phase 1, $8.3 billion focused on healthcare; phase 2, 
beginning the process of helping workers and helping people get back to 
work and helping healthcare more; and now phase 3, which is an 
unprecedented amount of support from American taxpayers to

[[Page S1906]]

ensure we can get people through this, help them weather the storm.
  And, again, these are Republican ideas and Democratic ideas through a 
process where we had four task forces that were bipartisan. We worked 
long hours. I was part of one of those task forces. Now we need to get 
this legislation passed. The American people deserve it. They deserve a 
Congress that does everything in its power to minimize the damage 
caused by the coronavirus.
  So let's put the partisanship aside. Let's get to a vote on this 
package as soon as possible, not 24 hours. Let's do it now. Let's do it 
now. We owe that to the people we represent.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Illinois.
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, before my colleague from the State of Ohio 
leaves, I would like to note one issue that he did not raise, which we 
have in common, and that is the issue of votes on the floor of the U.S. 
Senate in times of national emergency.
  Senator Portman and I have cosponsored legislation to address this 
issue, acknowledging in our introduction of it a few days ago, that 
when we face something, as we did this evening, where five of our 
Senate colleagues were unable to come to the floor of the Senate and 
vote because they are self-quarantining at this moment, this could 
grow. Let's be very honest about it. The numbers could grow to a point 
where it could reach an extreme where there is a question of an actual 
quorum for the Senate. What Senator Portman of Ohio, a Republican 
Senator, and I have introduced with him on the Democratic side, is an 
effort to establish a verifiable technology procedure so that once the 
decision is made that we are in a time of emergency, that Members could 
vote and not be physically present on the floor of the Senate.
  If you notice tonight on my side and even on his side, there are some 
Members who came to the floor quickly and left. They are genuinely 
concerned about social distancing and about contagion. I understand 
that very much. I share that concern.
  So I would just say to my friend from Ohio, that we are certainly not 
going to call this measure, but I hope we call it soon. It is time for 
us to have this conversation about how to protect Members and their 
families, staff and their families, in the way that we vote on the 
floor of the Senate when we are facing a public health crisis, such as 
the one we have at this moment.
  I will be happy to yield for a question.
  Mr. PORTMAN. I say to the Senator, I appreciate your yielding for a 
question. It is not really a question but a comment to thank you for 
your support of this on the other side of the aisle. This is a 
bipartisan effort to ensure that we can be able to do our duty.
  As the legislative branch, article I, we have responsibilities here. 
This is our duty station. Yet, if we cannot be here, we still need to 
be able to do it remotely. And with the technology that we now have, we 
have the ability to do that, as my colleague from Illinois said, in a 
safe and secure way. So I thank him for his advocacy of this. My hope 
is that we can have this as a possibility, should we not be able to 
  I think what has happened in the last several hours, as we learned 
about our colleagues who are self-quarantining, one who tested 
positive, as I understand it, it is very important that we have that 
ability. So I thank my colleague.
  I yield back
  Mr. DURBIN. I thank the Senator from Ohio.
  This is a bipartisan issue, as it should be. It affects both sides of 
the aisle. We are all vulnerable, and if we can find a practical 
solution which respects the integrity of the voting process of the U.S. 
Senate, let's do that.
  As we have drawn it up in the earliest version, it has to be agreed 
to by both leaders, Democratic and Republican, to go forward and do it 
for 30 days at a time, renewable for another 30 days, with a vote of 
three-fifths of the Members to go forward an additional 30 days. So 
this is not a permanent change, but it is a change that may be 
necessary if we face a public health emergency or a terrorist threat, 
God forbid, or something of that nature. So I thank the Senator from 
  I know he is prepared to depart. I thank him not only for his remarks 
but the tone of his remarks because what I sensed from the Senator from 
Ohio was a genuine feeling that we can achieve this goal of coming up 
with this critical third piece of legislation and do it with both sides 
of the aisle working together.
  The American public has a very low opinion of those of us who serve 
in Congress, as much as we respect the institutions--and many of us 
have given so many years of our lives to--but I think they have been 
pleasantly surprised in the first two measures that we passed. They 
were done on a timely basis, and they were done on a bipartisan basis. 
So when we addressed the issue of the resources to fight this COVID-19, 
when we talked about providing free testing and medical leave and 
unemployment insurance being accelerated and food and Medicaid 
reimbursement to States, it was done quickly, and it was done with both 
the House and Senate together on a bipartisan basis. I think that 
should be the standard.
  I am sorry we stumbled today. I wish the Senator from Kentucky, the 
majority leader, would have withheld calling this vote this evening 
because I do believe that there are serious negotiations underway, even 
as we meet here on the floor. In another part of this building, those 
conversations are taking place.
  I have heard a lot of speeches on the floor, and if you listened 
carefully to the comments of the Democratic leader, Senator Schumer, 
they were positive. He really, I felt, gave me the impression that even 
in the last several hours, there have been some steps forward.
  There are key elements that still need be resolved, but I feel 
confident that we can reach that point, and we must.
  The first and highest priority from our side of the aisle, we share. 
He said it. We all would say it. We have to slow down and stop the 
spread of COVID-19 in the United States of America. Unless and until we 
do that, there is nothing that we can do to repair and restore this 
economy that has any promise. We have to reach the point where we have 
crested and start to see a decline in infections in our country so that 
we can start envisioning the moment when we can get back to business in 
America. That moment couldn't come any time too soon for me or for all 
of us across the United States.
  That is why we sent a Marshall Plan--that is what Senator Schumer 
kept referring to. A Marshall Plan for healthcare and hospitals was our 
highest priority.
  I will concede the bill that he has described has substantial 
resources, but I must add, from my point of view, just listening to my 
hospital administrators in Illinois, that it is not enough. It isn't 
going to be enough. We are going to quickly see our healthcare system 
overwhelmed if we don't invest now and invest dramatically.
  Many of these hospitals in my State have said to me--and they said it 
publicly, as well--that their revenue sources, primarily outpatient 
treatment and elective surgery, have been pushed aside because so many 
patients are coming through the emergency room door complaining of 
symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19. They have to take them as a 
priority, and they can't schedule elective surgeries. So the revenues 
coming to many of these hospitals--not just in Chicago but across the 
State--have been compromised.
  So from a financial viewpoint, let's make sure that this third bill 
we are debating puts an adequate amount of money in for these 
hospitals. They are our first line of defense against the spread of 
this virus across America. I think we all agree that should be done.
  I continue to be frustrated--and I know my Governor, J.B. Pritzker, 
shares this frustration--that all of the promises and all of the press 
conferences that the White House and other people are having about all 
of the testing kits and all of the equipment headed our way have not 
borne fruit. We just don't see it. We are waiting for evidence of it.
  We are not testing nearly enough people in our State. A State of 17.7 
million people is a State that needs more than 350 tests a month. So 
what we need to do is to make sure we do this and have the testing kits 
available so

[[Page S1907]]

we can map the increase or decrease in infections, and we can chart, 
specifically, the spread of the disease in our State, which I hope is 
moderated very, very soon.

  As for the protective equipment, we have people who are volunteering 
to make masks at home, we are so desperate to supply the needs of 
protective equipment at all levels. It is not nearly enough, and it 
needs to be done.
  Let me also speak for a moment about the role of the Speaker in this. 
I listened to the Republican Senate leader speak in somewhat 
questionable terms, to be kind, about the role of Speaker Pelosi in 
this conversation about this third bill. I must say, it is pretty 
obvious that if we are going to pass this measure and do it with 
dispatch, we need to have cooperation on both sides of the Rotunda, not 
just a bill that is acceptable to the Senate but to the House as well. 
So when Speaker Pelosi comes to the table, it is important that she be 
there, along with Leader McCarthy and the House Republican leadership, 
so that all four corners are represented.
  That is exactly what Senator Schumer suggested at the earliest 
stages; that we have the four corners of leadership come together with 
representatives of the White House and reach a truly bipartisan 
agreement that way. So the fact that Speaker Pelosi is interested--she 
should be. She should be more than interested. She should be at the 
table and involved in making the decision on this.
  Let me tell you that cash payments are important. We have never 
opposed them. We have said that we want to extend unemployment 
insurance. There is a proposal for that. The duration of this extension 
is important to our side. It is a critical element, which I hope we can 
quickly reach an agreement on.
  When it comes to the 7(a) loans that are going to be made to small 
businesses, Senator Rubio and Senator Cardin have worked on this for a 
long time. I think they are very close to a bipartisan measure that we 
can agree on.
  The phase 3 effort that Senator Mark Warner and others have focused 
on really takes into account certain corporations with more than 500 
employees who definitely need a helping hand.
  When it comes to the largest corporations, I hope you can understand 
the reservations which some of us have. We want to make certain that 
the money going to these corporations isn't paid out in dividends or in 
stock buybacks so that someone ends up getting rich at the expense of a 
truly bipartisan effort to help the workers at those corporations, 
which are our highest priority. We can have restrictions so that these 
moneys are not abused and misused, and I hope we can do that as part of 
this agreement.
  Let me close by saying that I do believe we could close this deal. I 
don't know that it can be done tonight. I pray it will be. If there are 
people of good faith on both sides of the table, it will be. If it is 
truly bipartisan, I believe we can reach the goal that we are all 
  Let's get this done. Let's restore the confidence of the American 
people in Congress that we can act on a bipartisan basis and on a 
timely basis to respond quickly to what is one of the greatest 
challenges I have ever lived through in this Nation.
  The American people in our neighborhoods, towns, and cities across 
America are proving every day that they have the courage and 
determination to see their way through this challenge--first and 
foremost, our healthcare workers, God bless them, at every level.
  The doctors, the nurses, the laboratory technicians, and those 
working with our elderly, they are risking their lives every day in 
their mission to deal with this crisis. We should do no less when it 
comes to our responsibility here in the U.S. Senate.
  And a word about our first responders, whether it is the police, the 
firefighters, or those in the medical professions, they, too, are doing 
their jobs, regardless of the threat to them personally. So, in that 
spirit, we should resolve this matter and resolve it quickly. I believe 
we can do it.
  I believe there is a feeling of good will and determination on both 
sides of the aisle here in the U.S. Senate. I hope that it can even be 
accomplished this evening.
  I stand by what Senator Schumer said earlier. There is a light at the 
end of this tunnel. Let's try to pursue it, both parties, and get it 
done as quickly as possible
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The senior Senator from South Dakota.
  Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, we don't have the luxury of time here, and 
I think we all know that. Certainly, the American people know it. They 
can see it sort of just unfolding right in front of them.
  We have small businesses that are shutting down, which, of course, 
affects the people who work there. We have healthcare systems that have 
tremendous needs, and obviously they are on the frontlines of fighting 
the coronavirus.
  We continue to try to make progress on a piece of legislation that 
really should have been proceeded to today. The vote we had earlier 
today was a procedural vote. It was, basically, are we going to get on 
the bill. And what you saw was the Democrats object to even getting on 
the bill.
  Now, obviously, as the leader pointed out, once you are on the bill, 
you have 30 hours, if you choose to use it, in which to continue to 
discuss and debate. And if there are things that they are continuing to 
work on, certainly, they can have the opportunity to do that.
  But the vote today, which you saw the Democrats oppose, was simply 
whether or not we were going to get on the bill--a bill that is 
desperately needed by our country right now, and I would argue that the 
American people are looking to us for action. And, frankly, as I said, 
we just don't have the luxury of time.
  The Democratic leader got up earlier and said that this is a partisan 
bill. That is just false. That is just flatly untrue.
  This has been negotiated for the past few days now between Democrats 
and Republicans. Leader McConnell appointed several task forces, and 
the Democratic leader appointed representatives from his side to serve 
on those task forces. They have been negotiating elements of this bill 
now for the past few days. Frankly, what you see, the legislation in 
front of us, reflects that work.
  There is a tremendous amount of bipartisan content in this bill. The 
Democrats had ample opportunity to make their case and to try to get 
things included that they said they wanted.
  Just to sort of highlight, again, what the Democrats said their 
priorities were in this legislation--phase 3, if you will--it was about 
workers. It was about small businesses. It was about unemployment 
insurance. They call it unemployment insurance on steroids. It was 
about hospitals. I have to say that I see in this piece of legislation 
all of that. What they just voted to even debate includes all of those 
  In fact, if you look at what this bill includes, if you are talking 
about providing help to families and people who really need it in this 
country immediately--$1,200 checks to individual taxpayers, $2,400 to a 
couple who file jointly, and that runs through income levels all the 
way up. If you are a single taxpayer, $75,000. It phases out at about 
$99,000 for couples filing jointly and $150,000--it phases out after 
that. And then $500 for each child in this country.
  That was something that was a priority for both sides. Democrats 
wanted to have that in this legislation, and there were many 
Republicans who did as well. The President said it was something that 
he supported. So that was a bipartisan priority that ended up in this 
legislation and will bring immediate relief and get dollars back in the 
hands of American families to enable them to deal with their daily 
needs and, as best they can, with the crisis that we have unfolding in 
front of us.
  Then you had, of course, a priority--a huge priority--for the 
Democrats, which was the so-called UI on steroids, the unemployment 
insurance program. I have to say that my colleague from Ohio, Senator 
Portman, did a terrific job of laying out all the elements of this 
legislation, but, as he mentioned, unemployment insurance was a big 
priority for the Democrats.
  Well, there is a big commitment to plussing up, topping off, the 
unemployment accounts that the States maintain--$600 per week for 3 
months into

[[Page S1908]]

those unemployment accounts. So if you are unemployed in this country 
and you go down to the unemployment office in your State, what you 
would normally receive in terms of a benefit would be increased by $600 
per week, per person, for 3 months.
  That was a huge priority for the Democrats and one that Republicans, 
as well, believed was important. So we have not only the checks going 
out immediately that will benefit families, but we also have now an 
unemployment insurance program delivered through the States that will 
provide assistance to those who have lost jobs.
  Then, of course, we had another priority that the Democrats 
mentioned, which was that they wanted to provide assistance--much 
needed assistance--to small businesses. If you look at what is in this 
bill for small businesses, there is basically a loan program operated 
under the Small Business Administration in which participating lenders, 
which could include commercial banks, community banks, and credit 
unions, as mentioned earlier, where small businesses could go to get 
loans--100 percent guaranteed--which, if used to pay payroll, if used 
to keep their employees employed over this period, would be forgiven at 
the end, to the total tune of about $350 billion total as part of this 
package. That is what it adds up to.
  That, again, is a benefit that would go out for the next 8 weeks to 
small businesses and, if used to keep their employees employed--in 
other words, to keep them connected to their jobs, in hopes that, when 
this thing passes, those jobs will still be there. So that is $350 
billion there--$300 billion for checks that would go out to families, 
as I said earlier, and $250 billion to plus up the unemployment 
insurance accounts that the States maintain. Those are all benefits 
that will go out to workers in this country--to employees--to keep 
people afloat, if you will, until we get to a better time, hopefully, 
not too far ahead of us.
  So those were all priorities that both sides had, and that is just 
what Democrats voted against when we had the vote earlier about whether 
even to get on the bill, whether to debate the bill. They voted no. 
They voted no en bloc.
  You saw, shortly after that, a significant drop in the futures 
market. I think the markets, in addition to the American people, are 
looking to us to provide confidence, to provide a shot in the arm, to 
suggest that we get what is at stake and how important it is that we 
respond not only swiftly but in a bold and big way.
  So those are just a few of the things that were included in there 
that are Democrat priorities and represent the work of a bipartisan 
task force.
  Now, the Democrats have argued that perhaps there is too much in here 
in the form of bailouts. Well, there is a provision in here, through 
the Federal Reserve, that would allow loans to be made to companies 
that need cash flow, that need liquidity, and, obviously, those are 
loans that would be paid back. So I don't know how you can argue 
something is a bailout when people are getting loans--businesses are 
getting loans--that ultimately have to be paid back. But that is a 
provision in the bill.
  But if you don't have that in there, a lot of those businesses that, 
through no fault of their own, have been shuttered or asked to shut 
down--and I can use some good examples, notable examples. The airlines, 
basically, are not operating--10 percent, maybe 20 percent, but more 
likely, from what I am hearing, 10 percent of their normal loads. They 
are going to have huge hits to their balance sheets. And there are 
other companies like those across this country right now that are 
feeling a tremendous amount of economic harm.
  The reason that is important is because those people, those 
companies, those businesses employ thousands--millions--of workers 
across this country, and if we want to keep people employed in this 
country, we have to keep those businesses functioning and operating in 
a way that will enable them to continue to make payroll. So, yes, there 
is a provision in there that helps businesses sort of get liquidity--a 
loan, if you will; capital, if you will--that will bridge to, 
hopefully, a better time. But those loans, eventually, obviously would 
be paid back.
  The Democrats were very insistent that there not be any corporate 
bailouts, not any bailouts for big businesses, and I don't know how you 
could argue that what this includes is a bailout for big businesses. 
There is simply a mechanism--a credit facility, as it is referred to--
that would enable businesses to have access to loans that they could 
use to keep their businesses up and operating.
  So those are just a few of the features in the legislation that was 
just voted down--or even whether or not to debate it or not was voted 
down--by the Democrats.
  I want to mention one last thing here that the Democrats also voted 
against, even debated when they came out here and all voted against 
this. There is a significant amount of money going to those entities 
that we know are on the frontlines of fighting this virus. We have all 
said that the best way to get the economy back on track, the best way 
to see things restored to normal in this country, is to defeat the 
virus. Well, there are significant resources in this legislation that 
are designed just to do that:
  Seventy-five billion dollars going to hospitals and another $20 or 
$25 billion that will go to hospitals through other programs, a 
mandatory part of the spending. This comes through the appropriations 
bill. So these are discretionary funds. So there is about $100 billion 
in there for hospitals.
  Twenty billion dollars for veterans healthcare. Of course, veterans 
hospitals and healthcare facilities are really critical to caring for a 
critical group of people in this country, those who have defended and 
fought for our freedoms.
  Eleven billion dollars for vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and 
other preparedness needs--in other words, all those things that we hear 
talked about, in addition to gloves and masks and ventilators, and 
those sorts of things, but also the money going into vaccines. 
Ultimately, the way we are going to beat this is we have got to have a 
vaccine. So there is $11 billion in there for that.
  There is $4.5 billion for the Centers for Disease Control, which was 
also plussed up significantly in the last two bills that we passed. The 
one most recently, earlier this week, had significant additional 
resources in there for the CDC.
  There is $1.7 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile.
  Twelve billion dollars for America's military, which I think we all 
agree is a priority for everyone here. National security is always an 
issue that we pay a lot of attention to, particularly in the time of 
  Ten billion dollars for block grants to States, just directly block 
grants to States.
  Twelve billion dollars for K-12 education and another $6 billion for 
higher education
  Five billion dollars for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund.
  Ten billion dollars for airports--and, obviously, airports are very 
much impacted by this complete drop-off when it comes to air traffic in 
this country.
  Twenty billion dollars for public transportation emergency relief.
  That adds up to $242 billion, on top of all the things that I just 
mentioned, going to things that we think are really strategic when it 
comes to defeating this virus and combating it and making sure that 
those resources are available to those who are on the frontlines and 
doing that.
  So, all told, of that $242 billion, 75 percent--or $186 billion--goes 
through the States. The Democrats have said: We need more money for the 
States; we need more money for the States. Well, this is a pretty 
significant amount, I would think: $186 billion out of the $242 billion 
that I just described runs through the States.
  So there is a tremendous amount of support for those who are on the 
frontlines trying to fight and defeat this coronavirus.
  So I just point all that out to say, again, that it is a complete 
misnomer to say, as the Democratic leader did earlier, that this was a 
partisan bill. This is a bipartisan bill. I participated in one of 
those working groups, and I sat across from my Democrat counterpart--
or, at times, more than one--and with staffs, and we came to the table 
with a set of priorities, and they came to the table with a set of 
  What this represents is not everything they wanted, and it is 

[[Page S1909]]

not everything we wanted but the things that we could find that we 
could agree upon. So this was a very bipartisan process which 
incorporated the ideas of both Republicans and Democrats.
  It is truly unfortunate--frankly, sad, a sad day, I would argue, here 
in the U.S. Senate--for our country that the Democrats opted just a 
moment ago to vote not even to get on this bill, not even to proceed to 
it, to give us the opportunity to continue that discussion and that 
  They indicated that there are still discussions going on. I hope that 
is the case because--I have said this before--we don't have the luxury 
of time. We need action. We need action now--not later, now.
  The American people need to see relief. They need to see confidence 
in their elected leaders and a willingness to work in a bipartisan way 
on a solution, perhaps many solutions--hopefully, included in this 
legislation--to the challenges that they are facing in their everyday 
  So I will say it is unfortunate we are not going to be on this bill 
right now. I hope and pray--for the sake of our country and for the 
people who are not only suffering from the coronavirus but those who 
have loved ones and those who are exposed to it, those who are caring 
for them, but also for every worker, every small business in this 
country--that the Democrats would reconsider and allow us to get on 
this legislation and move forward in a bipartisan way on a bipartisan 
bill, which they helped fashion, which they helped craft, and that is 
critical to the challenges that we are facing in the days and weeks 
ahead so small businesses will have an opportunity to receive a cash 
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The senior Senator from Mississippi.
  Mr. WICKER. Mr. President, the Senator from South Dakota has said it 
well, and I just want to come down here today to echo that we have had 
so many misstatements made by people on the other side of the aisle 
this afternoon and this evening that I just think it cries out for 
  Senator Thune is correct. This is a bipartisan bill that we are 
asking for consideration on, that we are asking that a vote be taken so 
that we can have the final 30 hours of debate and get to it tomorrow.
  America is crying out for this. The financial markets are watching 
this. Our economy is teetering on the brink. We need to get this done.
  I, too, was in one of the working groups, and we had equal numbers of 
Democratic and Republican Senators in this working group, with their 
staffs, with their laptops. And much of what is in the bill was 
hammered out with the input of Democratic and Republican members of 
this working group. There were a few issues, yes, that we couldn't 
resolve, and so we kicked it up to the Democratic leader and the 
majority leader to be hammered out, perhaps in consultation with the 
  But, far and away, most of this legislation is bipartisan in nature, 
and it just pains me for, somehow, the accusation to be made that this 
is nothing but a partisan bill written by the Republican leader.
  What is this about? The American people need to understand this. This 
is about getting money to average workers so they can pay their bills 
and so they can stay employed. It involves enhanced and lengthened 
unemployment insurance, and it is a provision given to us and designed 
and conceived by our Democratic friends. We felt it was worth doing, 
and we put it in the bill.
  Also, as the distinguished Senator from South Dakota said, there is 
$350 billion for small businesses to keep workers from ever being 
unemployed in the first place, to keep them on the job. This could 
happen as early as this coming week. They would be able to use this 
money to pay the salaries, and those people would never have to go on 
unemployment insurance because they can still be on the job.

  That is what is in this bill. That is what we need to get to a 
conclusion about and send over to the House of Representatives tomorrow 
  Of course it involves checks from the government, massive checks--a 
massive amount of checks to middle-income Americans to just give them a 
little something in their accounts so they can pay the bills in 
response to this economic downturn that we have had. It involves loans 
to keep Americans working. This is something that I, in particular, was 
working on with my Republican colleagues and with Democrats in this 
working group.
  The airline business in this country is about to shut down. Passenger 
rates are single digits. They can't stay afloat with this. It pains me 
to hear our solution to this problem to keep airline workers working 
described by my Democratic friends as a bailout. That is what would 
happen if we were just going to hand over cash to the airlines to keep 
them afloat, but that is not what we are doing.
  What we are doing is offering to pay loans--quick loans--to the 
airlines companies so they can continue to pay their employees and keep 
them on the job and not put them on the unemployment rolls.
  These loans would be made at market rates. There would be no loan 
forgiveness, and they must be paid back--not a grant, not a bailout. It 
is offensive to me to hear some of my friends, who perhaps have not 
read the bill and are not as thoroughly versed on its provisions as we 
who actually wrote the bill are, describe this as a bailout for 
corporate America. Nothing could be further from the truth.
  There were some people asking us to make grants to the big airline 
companies. We rejected that on a bipartisan basis and said: No, these 
must be loans. Once the airlines get back on their feet and once this 
coronavirus outbreak has subsided, they will be in good shape again, 
and they will be able to pay it back--with market interest rates, just 
like any other business that has to take out a loan. But we have to get 
this money to them in a hurry.
  So I object and had to come down here and say that perhaps they are 
confused, perhaps they haven't read the bill, as I have. But it makes 
available loans to the airline industry and to other related industries 
that are critical to national security.
  If I might, let me read a sentence or two from the bill itself. This 
is bill language that I am quoting: ``The Secretary may enter into 
agreements to make loans or loan guarantees to 1 or more eligible 
  The applicant must be a business for which credit is not reasonably 
available. They can go out and borrow money from banks. This doesn't 
apply to them. But our airlines are going to need more money than that. 
This says that they must be paid back
  ``[T]he loan or loan guarantee is sufficiently secured.''
  Again, I am reading from bill language.
  ``[T]he duration of the loan or loan guarantee is as short as 
  My friend from Illinois--I appreciate the tone that he and my friend 
from Ohio used in their exchange just a few moments ago. I do think 
there is a real possibility that minds of good will can come to an 
agreement tonight. The realities on the ground in our country demand 
that and cry for it. But again, I must take issue with my friend from 
Illinois saying that there were no restrictions on the loans that we 
are giving to the airline industries that we are going to allow the 
Secretary of the Treasury to give.
  He mentioned specifically that we need to prohibit stock buybacks. 
These airline companies are going to get these loans. We need to have a 
provision in the law that prohibits stock buybacks.
  As a matter of fact, that is in the bill that we wanted to take up 
and were unable to get the requisite number of votes for just an hour 
or so ago. In the bill, we prohibit loans from being used by the 
company to buy back their stock.
  Here is bill language: ``(E) except to the extent required under a 
contractual obligation in effect as of the date of enactment of this 
Act, the agreement prohibits the eligible business from repurchasing 
any outstanding equity interests while the loan or loan guarantee is 
  So no corporate buybacks--we have answered one of the concerns the 
Democratic whip mentioned in his remarks. None of this money can go to 
increase executive salaries. It must be repaid, and it must be repaid 
with interest. Our bill has explicit prohibitions against any loan 
forgiveness for any of the loans in this entire section.

[[Page S1910]]

  This is hardly a bailout. We are offering a lifeline. Again, this 
bipartisan language hammered out by Republicans and Democrats offers a 
lifeline to critical companies that would probably not survive. We do 
it by providing carefully crafted and restricted loans to protect the 
  Without these loans being available in the very next few days, some 
of these companies will file bankruptcy. Many thousands of these 
employees will lose their jobs. We are trying to pass this bill to keep 
that from happening--128,000 workers in one company; 92,000 workers in 
another company; 79,000 workers in yet another.
  I say to my friends: Let's negotiate these last few details and get 
this done, but don't misrepresent this as a big giveaway to corporate 
America. This is designed to help average Americans who are suffering 
and threatened with the loss of their jobs.
  The majority whip mentioned the appropriations portion of this. 
Again, this is money that is needed. Americans need to know what is in 
the discretionary appropriated part of this bill.
  Let me just tell you, more than 75 percent of it--$186 billion of the 
total--will go to State and local governments to help them get over the 
hump in this terrible crisis.
  I have been contacted by officials from State and local governments, 
and I told them that this bill has $186 billion to help them get 
through this crisis. I thought I was going to be able to tell them that 
this would be enacted in the next day or two. Unfortunately, I was a 
little overly optimistic on that. There is $186 billion for State and 
local governments; $75 billion for hospitals--clearly they need it--$20 
billion for the Veterans Administration; $11 billion for vaccines, 
therapeutic, diagnostics, and other preparedness needs.
  If there are larger needs, come and tell us that, and we will work 
with people. This is a generous bill--$4.5 billion for the Centers for 
Disease Control, $1.7 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile, $12 
billion to assist the military in addressing this coronavirus, $12 
million for K-12 education, $6 billion for higher education, $5 billion 
for FEMA disaster relief funds. There is $10 billion in it for 
airports--my colleagues have heard from airports--and $20 billion for 
public transportation.
  This is an injection of appropriated money to keep this economy going 
until this virus subsides. It is an injection of loan money through 
some large businesses and an opportunity, also, for the Federal Reserve 
within their discretion, under a program that has been established for 
decades and decades, to loan money not only to big companies but 
medium-sized companies and small companies under a Federal Reserve 
program, commonly known as section 13, subparagraph 3.
  I will say to my colleagues: Before we come down here and make 
inaccurate statements, read the bill and understand what we are doing. 
Understand that this is to get money to workers who need to stay on the 
job. This is a bill to get unemployment benefits to workers who are 
already off the job and an injection of cash into our economy and a 
prop-up on a loan basis with interest to be repaid to keep the airlines 
and related business float.
  I hope we pass it. I know Americans are hoping and praying for this 
tonight. Perhaps by the early light of morning, we will have good news 
on this.
  I yield the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. President, I come to the floor because I have been 
listening for the better part of well over an hour as my colleagues 
talk about the vote we had a little earlier and why it didn't pass and 
why, from their perspective, it should have.
  Let me start off by saying that there is a sense of urgency, but 
there is also a sense of getting it right and getting our priorities 
right. The wealth of the Nation will improve only when the health of 
the Nation improves. This package, as presently designed, falls far 
short of what is necessary to make the health of the Nation whole. We 
need a surge at the end of the day to ensure that, in fact, we can have 
the frontlines--the hospitals, the medical workers, nurses, all of 
those--be able to achieve the most fundamental goal, which is to make 
the American people safe from this virus. This, in the first and 
foremost instance, is a fight against COVID-19. It is first and 
foremost because if we do not get the health of the Nation right, we 
will not get the wealth of the Nation right, no matter how much money 
we spend.
  There is a lot of talk here about markets. I have heard for the 
better half of the last hour-plus about markets. The markets are 
important; I don't underestimate that. Yet what is really important is 
the health of the American people because when they are healthy, we 
will prosper, but when they are not, we will not prosper. When we meet 
the challenge of the pandemic, we will prosper. When we don't meet the 
challenge of the pandemic, we will not prosper. It is very simple.
  First and foremost, this is about having a robust figure for the 
hospitals and health frontline workers. This package, as it presently 
is devised, fails to do so.
  Secondly, this is about making sure that not just big corporations 
get the moneys they need, but that average working families and 
individuals get the robust assistance they need to get through this 
period of time. When you have a $425 billion--billion--fund that has 
total discretion of the Secretary of the Treasury with no guardrails, 
no guarantees for workers, no guarantees that, despite how much money 
we spend and give to large corporate entities, they will not guarantee 
the well-being of workers, then something is wrong.
  I have been through September 11, and I have been through Superstorm 
Sandy in New Jersey and the Northeast, and I have never seen anything 
like this. I also remember the errors we made after the great recession 
on the TARP and other related programs. In our desire to overwhelmingly 
respond--we still have that desire today--there were great mistakes 
  How many times are we going to get a shot at a trillion-dollar-plus 
program? We need to not only have a sense of urgency, but we need to 
get it right in order to affect the well-being of the American people 
in their health, in their economic well-being, and in the future 
economic well-being of the Nation. This rush, in a way that doesn't get 
it right, is dangerous because I don't know how many trillion-plus 
packages we are going to have.
  When I look at the language in this present legislation, my God, it 
is shameful. It is shameful that, in the midst of a pandemic, the 
ideological views are seeking to be incorporated in a way that has 
nothing to do with dealing with COVID-19--nothing. The denial of 
certain health groups to be able to access funding at a critical time 
in our country has nothing to do with COVID-19.
  This bill has a $425 billion slush fund with which, basically, the 
Secretary of the Treasury can say: I like you; you get this. I don't 
like you; you get nothing.
  There is no transparency--no way for the Congress to know. Six months 
after you give a loan is when we might finally find out. That is 
unacceptable. We have to know, when we are making these investments, 
that they protect workers and that we are not going to have all this 
money, in part, be used for stock buybacks; that we are not going to 
see corporate executives have big increases in their salaries and 
benefits. That is not what the American people's taxpayer money is for. 
That is why there were votes against proceeding--because we have to get 
it right.
  We have to get it right. How is it that there are no provisions in 
the present bill for foreclosures or evictions? People are going to 
face unprecedented consequences, not because of their own making, not 
of moral hazard. They are fired; they are left without any money. Are 
we going to evict them from their homes? Does that serve the public 
health in the midst of a pandemic? No. There are no consequences for 
  How is it that we have no parameters for how the Treasury would 
structure loans? How is it that we have no worker protections to ensure 
that the very

[[Page S1911]]

essence of why we want companies to be able to sustain themselves--and 
we do, small, medium, and big--we want them to sustain themselves, but 
we want them to sustain themselves for what? To be able to keep workers 
employed and to be able to keep the economy going, not to improve 
simply the bottom line.
  Why is it that we can't have solid stock buyback language, which 
could be waived under the present legislation by Treasury? Why is it 
that, when we do talk in this limited way in the bill that is existing, 
that we are debating, that we voted not to proceed on, it says worker 
protections to the extent possible or practicable, I should say--to the 
extent practicable? That can mean anything. That is not a protection.
  Why do we have no loan transparency? We are talking about giving 
average Americans a morsel when we are spending billions of dollars 
with no transparency whatsoever, with no guardrails, with no 
conditions. That is simply wrong. This is a bill without warrants that 
can ensure that the government--the government meaning the U.S. 
taxpayer--will recover its money. These are simply not ways that we 
can--why is there no student loan forgiveness, not a delay but 
forgiveness? Why is there no direct grant assistance to small 
businesses? It is great to get a loan if you are making money, but if 
you are not making money, a loan doesn't do anything for you because 
you can't pay it back because there is no revenue coming in.
  The small businesses are really the backbone of the Nation. They are 
the backbone that ultimately employs Americans, and we say: We are 
going to give you a loan.
  That is great, but I have no income coming in. I am shut down. How is 
it that a loan is going to ultimately be able to help me survive so 
that I can have Americans return back to a job? I need some direct 
grant assistance.
  Who is on the frontline? I learned on September 11--when I was in the 
other body in the House of Representatives--that it wasn't the Federal 
Government that responded on that fateful day. It was the States; it 
was the local municipalities. We lost 700 citizens in New Jersey on 
September 11. We triaged people from downtown Manhattan into New Jersey 
hospitals. It wasn't the Federal Government that responded; it was the 
States and local municipalities.
  How is it that you cannot be forceful in giving a significant amount 
of money to States and local municipalities that are at the frontline 
of COVID-19? The Federal Government isn't there. The States are burning 
up enormous amounts of money from their State treasuries to do what is 
right by their citizens, but we are not giving them any money. There is 
virtually nothing in this bill for that. The National Governors 
Association--Republican and Democratic Governors--say they need at 
least $150 to $200 billion. They get a pittance in this bill. How are 
they, as the frontline defense, going to continue to meet this 
challenge? They will go bankrupt.
  How is it that there is no SNAP increase for the most vulnerable in 
our society? We have never seen a downturn in our economy in which we 
have not considered SNAP as a critical element of being able to feed 
people. So that is why I voted no. That is why I voted no.

  I am all for helping businesses have the capability of ultimately 
surviving. I want them to survive because I want their workers to be 
able to survive as well. Above all, I want the American people to get 
healthy, and I can't get them healthy unless we have a Marshall Plan 
for our hospitals and providers at the frontlines. I can't solve a 
problem if I don't have the States and municipalities able to achieve 
what they critically need as the Federal Government waits. We can't 
have the health of the Nation unless we have a surge on testing 
protective equipment for our first line of defense and then, 
ultimately, unless those who face the greatest risk under this virus 
have a shot at surviving life or death with ventilators. This bill 
falls short in all of those regards.
  None of us want to vote no to proceed, but we can't proceed to 
something that is a false hope to the American people. We have to do 
what is right. What is right is to protect the health of the American 
people--be able to beat COVID-19--and be able to stand up individuals, 
families, workers, and companies that will honor their obligation to 
workers as part of the Federal response to them and that will help the 
States and municipalities in their frontline challenges. That is why we 
could not vote to proceed.
  That is why there exists a precious moment. Every other bill started 
off with both Houses and the leadership of both Houses negotiating the 
bills. The first two iterations had bipartisan support because they 
were done that way. This one was done whereby the Republican majority 
in the Senate decided, We are going to decide what we want to see. Then 
we will offer it to you, and maybe we will change some things or not.
  In the midst of a pandemic, that is not the way to, ultimately, work. 
We lost nearly a week. Instead of making the bipartisan efforts that we 
could have made nearly a week ago, we are pressed and have created this 
drama that, if it is not done right now, there will be a consequence. 
That is unacceptable. We have to get this right. We are not going to 
get multiple shots at trillion-dollar programs. We have to get this 
right. Ultimately, we have to have the effect of helping the American 
people survive the critical challenges before them.
  That is what is before the Senate now. I hope that the minds will 
prevail here to work toward a bipartisan agreement that will bring all 
of these elements together. Yes, no side has a better view of how we 
achieve this, but both sides have critical views that are necessary. 
From our perspective, this is about beating COVID-19 first. It is a 
surge for our hospitals and frontline healthcare workers. It is a surge 
for workers and for protecting individuals and families. It is a surge 
for small businesses and the opportunity to make sure they survive so 
that, at the end of the day, people can go back to work. That is what 
this is all about, and it is why I felt compelled to come to the floor.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. TOOMEY. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered
  Mr. TOOMEY. Mr. President, I am here because I am absolutely shocked 
at what happened on this floor a little while ago, and I am going to 
try to convey to my colleagues a sense of the urgency that, I think, 
this moment demands and that they, apparently, don't understand because 
our Democratic colleagues all voted to prevent us from considering this 
legislation. So let me start with the context within which we are 
operating because it is unbelievable. I wouldn't think I would need to 
go through this.
  Just to be clear, we have been invaded by a potentially lethal 
species--a virus that is infecting Americans now by the tens of 
thousands. It is growing in numbers every day. It is killing Americans, 
including in my State. We have infected people in every single one of 
our States, and the numbers are growing rapidly. In response to this 
threat, we have been taking progressively more serious measures because 
of the degree of the danger that we fear--the disaster, the illness, 
the death--if we don't try to stop this virus. We have gone to an 
extreme that I will just candidly acknowledge that I never could have 
  What I am talking about is, among other things, the fact that my 
State of Pennsylvania and many other States across America are closed. 
I could never have imagined my even putting that sentence together. My 
State is closed. What does that even mean? I will tell you what it 
means. It means it is not legal to operate a business in Pennsylvania. 
It is not legal to go to work in the morning. Tomorrow morning, at 8 
o'clock, there will only be a very small percentage of Pennsylvanians 
who will even be allowed to go to work. We have shut down the State. I 
am not talking about restaurants and bars and nightclubs. I am talking 
about all businesses except those deemed essential and a very small 
handful of others. I am talking about

[[Page S1912]]

factories, distribution centers, warehouses--all kinds of producers, 
manufacturers, and services. Across the board, it is closed.
  What does that mean? It means an awful lot of things, but the most 
important thing it means is that the guy who wakes up tomorrow morning 
and can't go to work, what is he supposed to do? How is he going to 
support his family? It is not that he doesn't want to get a paycheck. 
It is not that he doesn't want to go to work--he is not allowed. He is 
going to have no income pretty soon because--guess what--the company 
that he works for is not allowed to have any sales. It is closed by 
order of the government. It is not just in Pennsylvania. This is in, I 
think, more than half of all of our States at this point--more than 
half of the country--and the number is growing every day.
  So this guy, like almost everybody across my State--men and women--is 
beside himself. They are all terrified because they know that they 
still have to put food on the table; that they still have to pay the 
rent or a mortgage; that they still have to clothe their kids; that 
they still have all of the ordinary expenses of living and are not 
allowed to earn a living because of the extreme measures we are taking 
to try to avoid an absolute catastrophe with this disease.
  That is why so many of us in this body have worked so hard for 
several weeks now--but very, very intensively in these last few days--
to try to deal with this fact that we have a potentially lethal threat 
and an economy that is disappearing. I mean, literally, the bottom has 
fallen out--it is going away--and that is enormously devastating to the 
people we represent. So, quite sensibly, we have said we need to focus 
on these individuals first--the men and women, the families--who are, 
as I said, terrified and understandably.
  So what did we do?
  Last week, we passed a bill that went right at, first and foremost, 
the people most directly affected by this. Paid medical leave at full 
salary for a couple weeks, paid leave thereafter, paid family leave if 
you are looking after someone who is affected by this, including if it 
is your kids because they can't go to school because the schools are 
also closed.
  But that wasn't all we did. We also bumped up the Federal share of 
our Medicaid Program--the program that pays for healthcare for low-
income and poor people. We increased the share that the Federal 
Government would pay for that.
  We increased food stamps. We were trying to find ways, and we did, 
and we passed it. It was an overwhelming bipartisan vote. That is done. 
That was last week.
  But we recognized that that is not enough under these circumstances 
because things just keep getting worse. So we took up the bill that we 
put on the Senate floor today. This had huge section sections designed 
also to help these individuals, these families, these men and women who 
just can't even go to work.
  One of the things we did was we made the unemployment insurance 
program much more generous. We dramatically increased the payments that 
you are able to get if you are unemployed because we realize there are 
going to be huge numbers of people who are not legally allowed to be 
employed, in a way. So several hundred dollars a week or more above and 
beyond what is already there is in this bill that our Democratic 
colleagues voted against. Several hundred dollars of additional 
payments every week to someone who is unemployed.
  But that is not all we did for individuals. We recognize it is going 
to take a little while for those changes to work their way through the 
system. So we said, What is the fastest thing we can do to get money in 
the hands of these poor folks who are wondering how they are going to 
make the next car payment. What we did is we said we are going to send 
a check in the mail, that is what we are going to do, to low- and 
middle-income wage earners, a significant check. How significant? 
Twelve hundred dollars per adult. So a married couple would get $2,400, 
plus $500 for any children they have. A married couple with three kids 
living anywhere in America who are wage earners who have middle or low 
income, they get $3,900--$3,900. That is the check that would be 
arriving in a couple of weeks. If the check doesn't get there, let me 
just make it clear why. It is because our Democratic colleagues voted 
no. They voted against sending that check. We thought that was 
important to get that in the hands of the people who need it.
  But that is not all we did. We also felt like we don't really solve 
this problem until we defeat the virus. We have a healthcare issue at 
the heart of this. We recognize that. So we have all kinds of 
provisions in this bill, and many of the provisions were priorities of 
our Democratic colleagues because this was a bipartisan process from 
the beginning, they know that, like the plan to boost unemployment 
  By the way, not just the payments were increased, but we expanded 
eligibility. We allowed people to qualify for unemployment insurance 
who, in the past, have not qualified--people like self-employed folks 
who historically have never qualified for unemployment. Under this 
bill, the one our Democratic colleagues voted against, they would have 
  But as I say, we also focused on healthcare, and some of the things--
I mean, a 20-percent increase virtually across the board for Medicare 
payments to hospitals. Do you know why? Hospitals are in trouble.
  One of the reasons hospitals are in trouble is they had to decide to 
discontinue elective procedures. So those surgeries that you would like 
to have but they are not absolutely essential, they are not happening.
  Well, that is how the hospitals pay the bills, those kinds of 
procedures. They are not happening because they need to keep the beds 
available for a potential surge, if it should happen, in coronavirus 
  So we recognized that with a 20-percent increase virtually across the 
board for Medicare.
  Big expansion in telehealth. Why is that important? So that you can 
get the professional advice you need without having to show up in an 
office and potentially infect a whole lot of other people. It is a no-
brainer, right?
  A lot of money for some of the materials that we need to do the 
testing, tests themselves, money to create the swabs that are necessary 
to get the sample to run the test, free tests--it is all in the bill, 
the bill that our Democratic colleagues voted against.
  And that is not all. We have $75 billion for hospitals in other forms 
above and beyond the 20-percent increase in Medicare--$75 billion. I 
can tell you for sure, every hospital in Pennsylvania wants that, needs 
that. Actually, I know that is the case for hospitals all across 
America, but our Democratic colleagues voted against sending $75 
billion to our hospitals at a moment when they desperately need it.
  Eleven billion dollars for vaccines and treatment. Look, this is the 
ultimate solution, right? When we have an ability to treat this virus 
so that if you are infected you are not really harmed because there is 
a medicine that will take care of it, that is ultimately a really 
important goal.
  But we don't have that yet. We don't know what that is yet. We need 
to fund the research and development of that medicine that will turn 
this into a minor nuisance rather than a threat against our lives.
  And how about vaccines? One day we will have a vaccine. I want that 
day really, really soon. So we have got $11 billion in this bill to 
accelerate the development of therapies and vaccines. That would be the 
bill that our Democratic colleagues voted no on earlier today.
  Five billion dollars for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund because they 
have all kinds of expenses they are incurring as they try to address 
  Ten billion dollars to keep our airports open because they are not 
getting the revenue that they normally get in the form of the taxes on 
the ticket because nobody is flying. There are no flights; there are no 
passengers; so there is no revenue. But we need to keep those airports 
viable for the moment we can begin our restoration, our recovery. So we 
have $10 billion there.
  We have $20 billion for public transit. I have been hearing from the 
folks who operate the public transit across Pennsylvania. They have the 
same problem everyone else has in one form or another. They are 
hemorrhaging cash because they are trying to pay their

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workers, but they don't have the revenue coming in. So we have $20 
billion to help out with the public transit, which is absolutely 
essential in our big cities, but it is vital all across our country--
$20 billion. They voted against that.
  So we focused on individuals and families, first and foremost. We 
focused on what can we be doing, everything we can--many ideas from our 
colleagues on the other side--about how we can improve our ability to 
defeat this virus.

  And yet there is another thing in this bill. The other thing in the 
bill is to make sure there is a job to go back to for the men and women 
who wake up tomorrow morning and don't have a job to go do. When this 
finally passes, I think it would be a good idea if the company that has 
been employing these folks still exists.
  Now, how is that going to happen when they are not allowed to have 
any revenue? They are closed. Well, we have developed a plan in this 
bill to address this.
  So it is really kind of two components. For small businesses, there 
is a program that has the effect that, at the end of the day, the 
Federal Government is going to pay for payroll for small business. That 
is amazing when you think about that. Nobody has ever imagined this 
before. The Federal Government is going to pay the payroll for small 
businesses as long as they keep their employees on the payroll.
  The mechanism is a loan, which they will use to make the payments, 
and then they don't have to pay back the loan as long as they did, in 
fact, keep their workers on the payroll.
  So we have offered, in this bill, to pay to keep people on the 
payroll of small business, and our Democratic friends voted no. No, 
they didn't want that.
  Now, for large businesses, we took a different approach. We said we 
can't actually pay for the entire payroll of the entire American 
workforce that is like 150 million people, but here is what we can do: 
A big company, if it is solvent, if it is a viable business, but it is 
in a cash crunch because--have I mentioned they are not allowed to have 
sales; they are not allowed to have revenue; they have no customers, in 
many cases, if they could. Think about the airlines; there is nobody 
flying. Think of hotels; there is nobody staying in hotels. But it is 
all across the entire economy. So what we did is we said: Look, if you 
have a viable business, we are going to have a program where we are 
going to lend you some short-term money because this should not last 
long. You are going to have to pay it all back, but we want to keep you 
alive--this employer--so that when this is behind us and when we no 
longer have statewide shutdowns and when we are able to go back to work 
and go back to producing and living normally, it would be really nice 
if these employers still exist.
  So that is what we created. The minority leader derisively called 
that a bailout to explain his vote against this.
  This is not a bailout. It is ridiculous to characterize it that way. 
First of all, they have to pay back every dime that they borrow--every 
dime. It is explicit in the bill, in the law, that there can be no 
forgiveness. None of this can be written off. The companies that borrow 
this money have to pay back every dime.
  And let me stress, this is not their fault. OK? You are operating a 
business somewhere in Pennsylvania, and the Governor says: By the way, 
close your doors at 8 o'clock Monday morning, and you don't reopen them 
until I say.
  Now, look, I am not trying to attack my Governor. I understand why he 
is doing this, but the point is, it is not possible for a business to 
survive. And we are seeing this manifested, this sort of easy, visual 
view on this that some of my colleagues have mentioned--our financial 
markets because they reflect what the world thinks about the future of 
our economy, and it is really, really grim.
  Some have suggested maybe we shouldn't focus on that. That is not the 
focus. That just gives us a reading of just how bad things have gotten, 
and it is really bad. And when my Democratic colleagues came down here 
and voted against all of these programs and all of these efforts to 
rescue American workers and families, advance our fight against this 
disease, and keep employers viable, I was just shocked. I just can't 
believe that they would do that; that they would come down here--and I 
can only conclude that they don't understand the urgency of this 
  I think they have to understand the nature of the disease, the 
severity of the disease, what that is doing. Maybe there is a lack of 
appreciation for the fact that at the same time our economy is being 
destroyed--if they continue this obstruction, and they refuse to let us 
pass this because they dismissively refer to keeping alive employers as 
a ``bailout,'' then a lot of these companies will fail, and they will 
not come back.
  You don't just flip a switch and have a company that failed, that 
went bankrupt, and think you are going to turn it back on. It doesn't 
work that way. It could take years or decades to rebuild an economy, 
and that means how many millions of Americans lose out on so much 
opportunity, on so much of life.
  That is what we can't let happen. We have to stop this as quickly as 
we can, and that means, I am convinced, these three elements: focusing 
on individuals who are adversely affected, and now that is virtually 
everybody. We have done that. Done that massively. Unprecedented scale 
in this bill. Focus on killing this virus, defeating this, developing 
the therapies, the cures, the ability to treat, the hospital capacity--
it is in this bill. Look, there will be more to be done, but for now, 
this is huge, and we got these ideas from Democrats and Republicans. We 
put them in the bill. And then, finally, if it is a fundamentally 
solvent business, just an extension of credit for a few months, a loan 
that they have to pay back so that there is a reasonable chance they 
will still be there.
  This is exactly what this moment calls for. This is what we need to 
do for our country. I am hoping our Democratic colleagues will, 
frankly, come to their senses and conclude and understand that there is 
no time for games here. This is getting worse by the day. We have to 
act now. So I hope before the clock strikes midnight tonight, we will 
vote in favor of cloture on the motion to proceed, the procedural vote 
that allows us to pass this bill as soon as possible.